Photo: Southern California Considers Financing Mexico Desalinization Plant
Southern California water officials are now considering looking to Mexico to aid in the state’s on-going water issues by financing desalinization plants.
California, Arizona, and Nevada have been speaking with Mexican government officials about sharing a desalinization plant in the neighboring country, but it is the San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that have pursued the possibility.
The desalinization plant would be located just south of San Diego in Mexico’s Rosarito Beach, and construction could begin in just two years. The plant would produce up to 75 million gallons of fresh water a day, which is 50 percent more than the biggest facility planned for California. The plant planned for California has been delayed due to lawsuits and permitting for well over a decade. It is intended for Carlsbad in San Diego County.
Some, like Serge Dedina, executive director of the conservative group, Wildcoast in Baja California, think the U.S. is making another attempt to take advantage of Mexico for American interests.
“It’s absolutely unethical for U.S. water agencies to finance coastal developments in Mexico to serve the insatiable water needs of southern California,” Dedina said. “The coast of Baja should not be used for American infrastructure projects.”
Dedina went on to stay that the proposal is nearly not too different from others that wish to exploit the lower costs and weaker regulations in Mexico.
Halla Razak of the San Diego County Water Authority refuted those claims, saying, “A lot of people when they hear this they say, ‘Oh great, we can do that and not worry about the environmental implications, [but] in Baja, they have very similar regulations as we have north of the border.”
Conservation groups are not happy about the plants either.
“The effects are the same if you’re drawing in seawater for desalination or power plants,” said Tom Luster, an analyst with the California Coastal Commission. “You’re killing essentially 100 percent of marine life, larva and fish eggs.”
A plant the size of that being proposed would cost roughly $1 billion, and Mexico is also in need of additional water, but the government has shown little interesting it building a plant alone.
“For Mexico, they are not looking at this at all as a last resort. They are in dire need of water,” Razak said. “Mexico is very much interested in our participation because it’s a matter of economy of scale. If you have more takers of the water, the overall cost of a unit of water is smaller.”
Mexico has agreed to pay for under a third of the cost for the plant.