The nation’s largest and most technologically advanced seawater desalination plant celebrated its first anniversary Wednesday in the North County.

Desalination plant when it was under construction in Carlsbad. Photo via San Diego County Water Authority

In its first year of operations, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant produced enough high-quality water from the Pacific Ocean to meet approximately 10 percent of the region’s demand, according to officials.

The plant has relieved pressure on imported water supplies, reduced state mandates for emergency conservation measures and helped the region pass the state’s stringent water supply stress test.

“This plant is a game-changer for San Diego County,” said Mark Muir, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “It’s gratifying that this visionary investment our region’s ratepayers strongly supported is paying dividends now, and we expect it to continue to do so for decades to come.”

After completing construction on schedule, the plant was dedicated on Dec. 14, 2015, in front of more than 600 elected officials, community leaders and project partners. The facility is named after the late Carlsbad mayor who also served as Water Authority Board chair.

During its first year, the Carlsbad plant produced nearly 15 billion gallons of fresh water or about 45,000 acre-feet for the San Diego region during one of the most severe droughts in state history.

“The desalination plant also underscores our region’s commitment to reducing reliance on imported water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta and meeting the objectives of the state’s Water Action Plan,” Muir said. “Every drop of water we produce locally is a drop that we don’t need to import from outside the region.”

— City News Service