Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.
Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant is named after a former Carlsbad mayor. Photo via

Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority said Wednesday they are monitoring the oil spill off Huntington Beach and are prepared to protect the Carlsbad desalination plant.

The two organizations said in a statement that oil from Saturday’s underwater pipeline leak has not affected operations at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which supplies nearly 10% of the county’s drinking water.

Under state law, the plant must shut down if the oil concentration in its seawater intake reaches 300 parts per billion.

“Water quality in Carlsbad’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon — the desalination plant’s intake source — is continually monitored,” according to the statement. “While there has been no indication of oil from Orange County reaching Carlsbad, the facility’s operating team will continue to closely monitor intake water quality.”

Poseidon and the Water Authority said they are prepared to install a floating boom at the mouth of the lagoon if necessary.

“That would protect the lagoon for marine life and ensure the desalination plant can stay online, which minimizes the San Diego region’s demands on other water resources,” according to the statement.

Federal investigators said Tuesday the spill likely began when a containership’s anchor hooked the pipeline from an offshore rig and dragged it over 100 feet, causing a rupture that released 144,000 gallons of oil.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.