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    Doheny Ocean Desalination Project
    Project Contact
    Andy Brunhart
    General Manager
    South Coast Water District
    (949) 499-4555

    Project Location: Doheny State Beach

    An ocean desalination facility serving South Orange County is proposed that would utilize state-of-the art “subsurface slant” wells off Doheny State Beach to draw as much as 30 million gallons a day of ocean water for reverse osmosis treatment, yielding up to 15 million gallons of local potable water a day.

    Project Goals

    • To replace unreliable and decreasing supplies of imported water
    • To provide emergency back-up water supplies, should an earthquake, system shutdown, or other event disrupt the delivery of imported water to our area

    Currently, South Orange County is about 90% reliant on imported drinking water to meet the needs of residents and businesses. If this project is funded and built, it could be operational as early as 2020 and produce as much as 25% of the potable water needed by project participants.

    Project Meetings & Workshop

    In 2006, a Project Participants' Committee was formed with members from the cities of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach County Water District, Moulton Niguel Water District, and South Coast Water District. The Municipal Water District of Orange County and Metropolitian Water District of Southern California are Project Supporters.

    While Project Participants' Committee meetings are not subject to the Brown Act, members have decided that the meetings involve a matter of public interest and shall be open to the public. The Participants' Commettee is voluntarily following Brown Act procedures as a courtesy to its members and the public.

    Project Background

    The Municipal Water District of Orange County began exploring the feasibility of developing an ocean desalination facility in 2002. The South Orange County Water Reliability Study recommended a number of initiatives to improve water reliability, including ocean desalination in South County.

    Project Milestones

    • From 2005 to 2007, Phase 1 and 2 Project Testing took place at Doheny State Beach and concluded successfully — involving hydrogeology studies, near-shore test drilling, and initial ocean water pumping.
    • In 2006, a subsurface slant well was drilled into the sand at Doheny Beach and under the ocean floor. The 350-foot long subsurface well is innovative technology for ocean-water intake because it draws feed water through an alluvial formation under the ocean rather than the open water. This approach avoids many environmental concerns of open-water intake such as entrainment and impingement of marine organisms. At the same time, it offers the benefits of natural filtration of feed water — significantly reducing or eliminating costly pre-treatment efforts and providing a buffer against red tide and other shock-loading events.
    • In June 2010, Extended Pumping & Pilot Plant Testing for the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project began at a temporary mobile test facility at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point and completed in 2012.
    • Phase 3 Extended Pumping & Pilot Plant Testing has received the support of environmental organizations because the feed water intake technology proposed does not harm marine life.
    • Phase 3 Testing costs are estimated at $5 million. Funding has come from a $1.5 million grant from the California Department of Water Resources, an $850,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the contributions of the participating agencies and cities.
    • During Phase 3 Testing, essential ocean water and groundwater data was evaluated, including well performance, impact on groundwater, reverse osmosis membrane treatment, and materials corrosion and microbial growth. A pre-treatment study investigated methods to remove iron and manganese in the feed water due to the groundwater entering the subsurface ocean well.


    Project Status

    Since 2012/13, Project Participants have been reviewing test findings and other reports to validate project parameters.

    Project Elements

    • Successfully complete feasibility testing.
    • Form joint powers “project participant” group.
    • Secure project funding ($150+ million).
    • Develop full-scale project description.
    • Develop and adopt Environmental Impact Report.
    • Determine construction approach: design/build/operate.
    • Secure ground lease agreement for desalination facility on South Coast Water District property adjacent to San Juan Creek.
    • Secure necessary permits for construction in the coastal zone.
    • Design intake well system and reverse osmosis process.
    • Select construction contractor(s).
    • Construct well system and desalination facility.
    • Commence operations (potentially as early as 2020).
    • The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has agreed to provide a subsidy of $250 per acre-foot of desalinated water produced at the proposed facility, which could lower the projected cost of desalinated water to $1,100 per acre-foot. Metropolitan estimates that in 2015 the purchase price for its imported water will be $927 per acre-foot. 

    Project Information

    Doheny Ocean Ocean Desalination Project (formerly known as SOCOD) Agenda Packets
    Section UL
     Agenda Packet 11.19.13 (625.9 KB)
     Agenda Packet 10.31.13 (1020.6 KB)
     Agenda Packet 10.16.13 (253.2 KB)
     Agenda Packet 06.06.13 (262.6 KB)
     Agenda Packet 05.16.13 (732.4 KB)
     Agenda Packet 10.24.12 (912.8 KB)
     Agenda Packet 09.26.12 (1.05 MB)
     Agenda Packet 05.30.12 (1.02 MB)
     Agenda Supplement 03.28.12 (1.04 MB)
     Agenda Packet 03.28.12 (2.08 MB)
     Agenda Packet 02.22.12 (1.74 MB)
     Agenda Packet 01.25.12 (4.98 MB)
     Agenda Packet 11.16.11 (653.1 KB)
     Agenda Packet 10.26.11 (2.03 MB)
     Agenda Supplement 09.21.11 (1.02 MB)
     Agenda Packet 09.21.11 (3.24 MB)
     Agenda Packet 05.16.11 (2.98 MB)
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