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Action Alert: Kill West Basin Desal Once and For All!

West Basin Municipal Water District Board Meeting
Wednesday, December 22, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Dear environmental allies -
We have a real opportunity to stop West Basin’s proposed ocean water desalination project this Wednesday, December 22 at 1:00pm! West Basin – at the request of their interim GM with support of at least one
board member – has scheduled a special board meeting to consider terminating this project in favor of other local alternatives like wastewater recycling and groundwater. Folks who work closely with the agency believe we have a very good chance of getting at least the three votes needed to stop this expensive and environmentally harmful project this week.

Surfrider, LA Waterkeeper, and the Smarter Water LA coalition are looking to get a great turnout on Wednesday to support the termination of the project, and to expand West Basin’s sustainable and more immediately achievable wastewater recycling and conservation efforts. We strongly encourage any and all speakers to keep your comments high level and positive, as opposed to getting too bogged down in the details or criticizing past decisions of the agency. Those of us who have worked most closely with West Basin believe that focusing on the agency’s past leadership on wastewater recycling and the potential for future leadership with this decision will resonate far better than focusing on the negative, and this approach will give us a great chance of success on Wednesday. You can use the Sample Talking Points below as a guide.

Following please find detailed instructions on how to join the meeting and sign up to testify; sample high level talking points; and some background info on desal. This is the best opportunity we’ve had to stop this project, and refocus West Basin’s efforts towards wastewater recycling, groundwater, and conservation, and we hope you can join us on Wednesday to help. It would make for a wonderful holiday gift for all of us!

How to Join
Join from your computer, tablet, or smartphone:
Join by phone: (669) 224-3412 and enter access code: 319-124-693
Let them know you would like to give public comment on Agenda Item 8A:
Status and Progress Report on the Ocean Water Desalination Project

How to Sign Up to Speak
Before 12:45 on Dec 22 go to
Using the link at the top of the page, create an account and then indicate you are there to speak on Agenda Item 8A.
While public comments on items on the agenda are to take place during that item, please sign up to speak by 12:45pm on Wednesday at the latest to ensure your voice is heard!

Public Comment Guide
Sample Talking Points
Hi, my name is ___, and I am here to speak on Item 8A regarding the Status and Progress Report on the Ocean Water Desalination Project. I am asking you to vote in favor of option 1 to terminate the Ocean Water Desalination Project and pursue alternative water supply options, and I want to applaud West Basin for taking this smart and much needed action.

  • West Basin has the chance here to continue its visionary leadership by refocusing its efforts on sustainable water supplies like conservation and recycling. West Basin can lead on the path towards a sustainable water supply.
  • I appreciate that West Basin needed to study and understand the effects of desal, but things have changed significantly since the project was first started. It no longer makes sense, and now is the time to stop the project and shift investments to more sustainable water supplies like recycled water.
  • West Basin’s studies demonstrate that through continuing and increasing efforts related to recycling, groundwater use and replenishment, and conservation it can meet demand without desal in a way that most efficiently uses our water resources.
  • We are currently facing a climate emergency, and we cannot afford to invest in ocean water desalination, the most energy-intensive and expensive water supply option.
  • With so many people struggling to pay their bills right now, it is critically important that West Basin prioritizes more cost-effective local water supplies like recycling and groundwater.
  • We are currently experiencing another cycle of drought, but West Basin’s own studies have shown that it can still meet the need for water without having to rely on desal. I support West Basin’s continuing investment in these more sustainable alternatives like recycling and conservation and applaud West Basin’s recognition in their 2020 Urban Water Management Plan that West Basin can meet its customers’ water needs without desalinated ocean water, even in multiple dry years.
  • By pursuing alternative sustainable sources of water instead of desal, West Basin can ensure it prioritizes customers’ fundamental right to affordable and clean water supplies.
  • West Basin has the opportunity here to set a bold course for the future of water management in Los Angeles that prioritizes reliability, sustainability and equity and fulfills its mission of providing safe and reliable supplies of high-quality water to the communities it serves.
  • For these reasons, I ask each of you to vote to terminate the Ocean Water Desalination Project and instead pursue alternative water supply options.

Starting in 2002, West Basin began investigating the development of an ocean water desalination project (the “Desal Project”). Since then, Surfrider, LA Waterkeeper, and many other environmental groups have been working to stop the Desal Project, and instead have encouraged West Basin to expand its leadership efforts in sustainable wastewater recycling and conservation. Desal is the most energy intensive, climate-impacting, and expensive way to get new water supplies. Desal works by sucking in huge amounts of sea water through pipes in the ocean. The Desal Project is planned to produce 20 million gallons a day of drinking water, and that would require sucking in more than 40 million gallons a day of seawater. This would have a damaging effect on many marine animals’ larvae. After sucking in seawater, it would pass through filters to remove the salt. This requires enormous amounts of energy to run. Finally, after creating drinking water, what is left is a toxic brine that would then be pumped back out into the ocean, further harming marine life. This whole process is energy intensive and expensive, making desal the most expensive source of water: even compared to imported water ($1500 per acre-foot) desal is still far more
expensive ($2600 per acre-foot). When we have other more sustainable water supplies available, it makes no sense to pursue desal.

West Basin has been a leader on recycling water, and the money that would be spent on desal could be better spent pursuing more recycling and conservation. There is a lot of room to increase efforts along these paths, which have the benefit of being sustainable and helping to ensure water rates don’t increase unnecessarily. Desal should only be an option of last resort, and we are not there yet. West Basin has many other options to pursue that will set us on a sustainable path, and this vote is critical to determining which path they pursue.