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Rep. Mike Levin and San Diego County Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer on November 6, 2019.

Rep. Levin Touts Bipartisan Efforts to Fund Water Supply Reliability

Rep. Mike Levin said California’s innovations and investments in water supply reliability and renewable energy are a model for the nation – and that the state’s efforts protect the environment while growing the economy at the same time.

Levin, an attorney and congressman from San Juan Capistrano, represents the 49th District, which includes, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Vista, Oceanside and a portion of southern Orange County.

He made his remarks November 6 during a Legislative Roundtable at the San Diego County Water Authority attended by water agency board members and staff, local civic and business leaders and Citizens Water Academy graduates.

Water supply reliability through supply diversification

“We need a diverse array of resources for water,” said Levin. “Water is a finite resource that we often take for granted.”

The Water Authority periodically holds Legislative Roundtables to hear about water-related issues in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. More than 60 people attended the Wednesday event, asking Levin a variety of questions about water, energy and climate change.

In his first 11 months in office, he has sponsored and co-sponsored the following bills:

  • Border Water Infrastructure Improvement Act
  • Desalination Development Act
  • Water Recycling Investment and Improvement Act
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act
  • Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act

Desalination Development Act introduced

Levin cited the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant as an example of the “deep innovation” necessary to increase sustainability, referencing legislation he introduced to increase federal funding for desalination projects.

He introduced that legislation in July 2019 to raise the funding authorization in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act for desalination projects to $260 million.

Levin said his bill would help strengthen regional water supplies by supporting projects like the South Coast Water District’s Doheny Ocean Desalination Project and the City of Oceanside’s Mission Basin Groundwater Purification Facility Well Expansion and Brine Minimization Project.

California’s clean energy economy a ‘model for the nation’

He also said California has proven that a clean energy economy works to enhance environmental sustainability and jobs.

“We’re leading the way in California, and at the end of the day, we’ve developed a clean energy economy,” Levin said. “The state is a model for the country in how to protect the environment and grow the economy.”

Why Desalinating Water is Hard — and Why We Might Need To Anyway

In places like San Diego and Dubai, where freshwater is scarce, humans turn to machines that pull the salt out of seawater, transforming it into clean drinking water.

Doheny Desalination Plant Still On Track Despite Higher Cost Estimates

While projected cost increases to the proposed Doheny desalination plant drew concern from two South Coast Water District directors at a meeting Wednesday, the majority of the board took the updated analysis in stride and the district continues pursuit of the project.

The bottom line for the average residential customer is that the expected monthly bill increase is now $10 — a 9% hike — rather than the $5 to $7 estimated in a 2017 report. Three members of the five-member board appeared comfortable with the latest estimates.

Upgrade For Desalination Project As It Plans Private Note Placement

Poseidon Resources received a one-notch upgrade to BBB from Fitch Ratings ahead of plans to privately place a $45 million note to finance construction of a new intake system for its desalination plant in Carlsbad, California.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch won the right to purchase the three-year note, expected to close in November, according to sources close to the deal.

San Diego regional water quality regulators issued a new permit for the development of permanent, stand-alone seawater intake and discharge facilities at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. Photo: Water Authority

Fitch Boosts Desalination Plant Bond Rating

Bonds from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and pipeline were upgraded to BBB and given a stable outlook in a new report from Fitch Ratings, affirming the project’s sound management and its ability to provide a stable, reliable source of drinking water to the San Diego region.

As the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient plant of its kind in the nation, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant’s stability stems from an effective collaboration between Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority.

That partnership will continue under a transfer of ownership from Orion Water Partners to Aberdeen Standard Investments approved Thursday by the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. The transfer – made public in June – will not alter day-to-day operations at the Carlsbad facility or create a fiscal impact to the Water Authority.

Poseidon Water continues to manage desalination facility

The plant will remain governed by terms of the 2012 Water Purchase Agreement between Poseidon Water and the Water Authority. That 30-year agreement requires Poseidon to obtain the Water Authority’s written consent of the transaction and to reimburse the Water Authority for its costs related to consideration of the consent request. Under the WPA, the Water Authority agreed to purchase between 48,000 acre-feet and 56,000 acre-feet of water from the desalination plant each year at a price established by the contract.  At the end of the 30-year term the Water Authority can assume facility ownership for $1.

“We are honored that maintaining Poseidon Water as the facility manager was integral to the Water Authority’s approval of the ownership transfer and by the Water Authority’s acknowledgement of our exemplary stewardship of this valuable resource,” said Carlos Riva, CEO of Poseidon Water. “We look forward to working alongside our new partners to continue providing the San Diego region with a climate-resilient drinking water supply and ensuring the plant continues its strong operations.”

Desalination plant is ‘hedge against drought’

Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer said the desalination plant is a valuable asset that provides high-quality water, a hedge against drought and insurance against earthquakes that could disrupt imported water deliveries. “With more than 50 billion gallons of water produced and counting, the Carlsbad plant is a critical part of our region’s infrastructure – and we don’t expect the sale to change that in any way,” he said. “In fact, we anticipate many more years of productive partnering with Poseidon.”

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant has met approximately 10% of the San Diego region’s water needs. The planned construction of new, technologically advanced and environmentally sensitive intake and discharge facilities will further enhance operations.

Higher ratings expected to save ratepayers money

Plant partners also praised the improved ratings for the desal plant and the associated pipeline by Fitch Ratings, which upgraded bonds from BBB- to BBB based on the plant’s strong operational record, updated financing projections for capital improvements, and Fitch’s expectation that the positive trend in financial and operational performance will continue.

Also this week, Moody’s affirmed its Baa3 rating for the plant and pipeline bonds. When those bonds are refinanced, higher ratings are expected to save ratepayers money by lowering the interest rate paid on the debt.

Since its inception as a public-private partnership, the Carlsbad facility has received numerous national and international awards.

The P3 approach allowed the Water Authority to develop new, capital-intensive, public-serving infrastructure without incurring debt or negatively affecting bond ratings, a fact recognized in 2016 when S&P raised the Water Authority’s credit rating to AAA citing, in part, the successful delivery of the Carlsbad facility.

Positive Operating Performance Boosts Desal Plant Bond Rating

Carlsbad, Calif. (October 24, 2019) – Bonds from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and pipeline were upgraded to BBB and given a stable outlook in a new report from Fitch Ratings, affirming the project’s sound management and its ability to provide a stable, reliable source of drinking water to the San Diego region. As the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient plant of its kind in the nation, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant’s stability stems from an effective collaboration between Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority.

That partnership will continue under a transfer of ownership from Orion Water Partners to Aberdeen Standard Investments approved Thursday by the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. The transfer – made public in June – will not alter day-to-day operations at the Carlsbad facility or create a fiscal impact to the Water Authority.

Millions of People Are Running Out of Water – How Desalination Plants Are Trying To Fix That

Today, one out of three people don’t have access to safe drinking water. One reason is that 96.5% of that water is found in our oceans. It’s saturated with salt, and undrinkable. Most of the freshwater is locked away in glaciers or deep underground. Less than 1% of it is available to us. Desalination is an important tool in the fight against water scarcity. Its reliability is becoming critical.

West Basin Municipal Water District Presents El Segundo Desalination Plant to Manhattan Beach Leaders for the First Time

The final environmental study for a proposed desalination plant in El Segundo will soon be released, the City Council for adjacent Manhattan Beach learned this week, when it received its first formal presentation on the potential project — even though the West Basin Municipal Water District first pitched the plant in 2015.

If approved, the proposed $400 million plant — which would border El Porto, in El Segundo — would be capable of converting 20-to-60 million gallons of ocean water to drinkable water each day. District officials have said the plant is crucial to diversifying the region’s water supply, in case there’s an emergency or a severe drought.

Credit Analysis Affirms Carlsbad Desalination Plant is Financially Strong

Carlsbad, Calif. – The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant maintains an investment grade rating in the latest report from Fitch Ratings, affirming the plant’s sound financial management and its ability to provide a stable, reliable source of drinking water to the San Diego region.  As the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient desalination plant in the nation, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant’s revenue stability stems from an effective collaboration between Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority.

Four Lessons From the Front Lines of California’s Water Wars

Were San Diego on its own, there wouldn’t be enough water to go around. Only about 5 percent of urban San Diego’s water comes from local rainfall, an almost meaningless amount that wouldn’t support our region’s 3 million residents.