California’s First Wave-Powered Desalination Plant Underway in Fort Bragg

Since almost completely running out of water in 2015, and again in 2021, the City of Fort Bragg is working to make sure it stays ahead of any future droughts by investing in desalination.

“We stopped allowing people to wash dishes and had them use paper products and things like that, just disposable plates and things like that. So it was very serious at that time,” Director of Public Works for the City of Fort Bragg John Smith said.

Fort Bragg Considering Wave Energy-Powered Desalination in Latest Novel Water Move

Fort Bragg, long powered by timber, fishing and tourist economies, is getting notice statewide for its push to create monetary green out of the Blue Economy, state officials said. Blue Economy is the term coined for a nationwide trend seeking revenue from the ocean without extracting its resources or doing things that cause serious environmental harm.

City Takes Possession of Water Desalination Unit

On Tuesday, September 14, the City of Fort Bragg council declared a Stage 4 Water Crisis at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night. A Stage 4 Water Crisis targets a 30-40% decrease in seasonal water use based on the most recent year in which water conservation measures were not required (2019).

Six months ago the City of Fort Bragg ordered a desalination-reverse osmosis treatment system to help provide drinking water during periods of saltwater intrusion at its main Noyo River water source. The skid-mounted unit has arrived and can produce 200 gallons of desalinated water a minute, or 288,000 gallons of water per day, but because the unit can only run for 12 hours a day, the daily capacity will top out at 144,000 gallons.

Water Begins Flowing to the Coast Due to New County Program

Water has begun trickling from Ukiah to Fort Bragg, and the county’s main task going forward is to scale up hauling to meet demand.

The city of Fort Bragg announced Sept. 9 that it had received its first 5,000-gallon delivery of water from Ukiah and is expected to receive 10,000 gallons per day that will allow Fort Bragg to resume outside water sales after halting them in mid-July. The two certified water haulers on the coast can resume their water sales, too, which were put to a stop once Westport shut off outside water sales at the start of the month. Josh Metz, who was contracted by the county to help coordinate the drought response, told the countywide drought task force, also on Sept. 9, the process has been “set up to address both domestic and commercial needs with some price difference.”

Supes Approve Trucking Water from Ukiah to Mendocino

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution implementing a water hauling assistance program at a special meeting on Aug. 24, which will focus on trucking raw water from Ukiah to the Summer Lane reservoir in Fort Bragg to be treated — where it would then be trucked to Mendocino.

The board discussed applying for a grant from the Department of Water Resources that would cover much of the cost for residential uses, though the logistics remain uncertain for business use. In the meantime, $1.5 million will be allocated for the trucking program.

California Drought: Dozens of Communities are at Risk of Running Out of Water

In Fort Bragg on the Mendocino Coast, city leaders are rushing to install an emergency desalination system. In Healdsburg, lawn watering is banned with fines of up to $1,000. In Hornbrook, a small town in Siskiyou County, faucets have gone completely dry, and the chairman of the water district is driving 15 miles each way to take showers and wash clothes.

City Approves Purchase of Desalination Unit

The Fort Bragg City Council’s special meeting on Monday went fairly quickly — all of 10 minutes — and unanimously approved the purchase of a desalination and reverse osmosis machine for no more than $335,818.50.

At the last city council meeting, city staff requested the council set aside $600,000 to pursue various options during this summer’s expected drought, including hurdles with sourcing and permitting.

The flow in the Noyo River, which is the city’s primary water source in summer and fall months, is at levels below the worst drought year on record, 1977.