REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – West Basin Municipal Water District’s Ocean-Water Desalination Demonstration Project received all regulatory approvals needed to move forward with construction next year. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board recently approved the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The California Coastal Commission approved the coastal development permit application in April 2009. Once built, the demonstration project will operate for two years.

The project, to be built in Redondo Beach at the L.A. Conservation Corps’ SEA Lab aquarium and educational center, will provide full-scale testing of membrane technologies – either micro- or ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis – to be used in a future 20 million-gallon-per-day desalination plant.

The demonstration project will test new intake technologies to evaluate impingement and entrainment and maximize protection to marine life. Wedgewire screen technology at the 1- to 2-millimeter level will be tested. Sub-ocean floor intake technology will also be tested at the piloting level to assess the feasibility of withdrawing and filtering seawater through the ocean floor.

"Ocean-water desalination is now cost effective and energy efficient enough to be part of West Basin’s future water portfolio," said West Basin Board President Edward C. Little. "We need this high-quality, reliable supply to meet future water shortfalls."

As part of West Basin’s research, a special aquarium will be installed at SEA Lab to monitor and ensure that the concentrated salt water from the desalination process is safe for sea life in Santa Monica Bay. It will be adjacent to a Santa Monica Bay natural environment aquarium. These aquariums are part of West Basin’s educational outreach program to share research findings with the public and educate the community about its fragile water supply.

West Basin is currently creating exhibit space at SEA Lab to share the Water Reliability 2020 Program with the community – with a goal to provide 10 percent of West Basin’s water supply from desalted seawater and the remainder to be supplied through water recycling, water conservation, groundwater, and imported water by 2020.

West Basin will additionally test a system to recover and reuse energy that could otherwise be lost in the desalination process and to minimize energy consumption.