Las Virgenes Partners with OceanWell in Testing Possible Breakthrough Desalination Process

  • by ACWA Staff
  • Nov 17, 2023
  • Newsletters

Entirely dependent on imported water, Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) in the Los Angeles area is constantly seeking innovative ways to diversify its water supply. And now, it may have hit on an experimental process that could not only augment its water supply with locally produced water but make a global difference in making desalination more accessible and environmentally safe.

LVMWD recently announced a partnership with OceanWell, a company seeking to pilot the first-ever “blue water farm.” Blue water refers to fresh water harvested from the deep ocean or other raw water sources. The LVMWD Board of Directors has unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that paves the way for the public/private partnership to research an environment-first approach that addresses the increasing concern of water scarcity and reliability. 

This project will test OceanWell’s proprietary water purification technology to produce safe, clean drinking water without the environmental impacts of traditional coastal desalination methods. Past ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn serves as OceanWell’s Water Policy Strategist.

OceanWell’s technology can be used in fresh, brackish, or saltwater environments, allowing any raw water source to become a potential source for drinking water. The pilot project is expected to start testing the state-of-the-art technology in LVMWD’s Las Virgenes Reservoir in the City of Westlake Village within the next year.

This partnership aims to establish OceanWell’s submerged filtration technology that revolutionizes the process of supplying fresh drinking water from any raw water source, including the ocean. 

Off the coast of LVMWD’s territory, blue water farms would use water pressure at depths of over 1,000 feet to drive the reverse osmosis process, while safeguarding marine life and protecting delicate aquatic ecosystems. This includes disposing of brine without harming sea life. As conceived, the system is reliable, low energy, scalable and minimizes the need for onshore facilities and the associated environmental impacts. 

One blue water farm would consist of five pods sunk to the ocean floor, with each pod producing about 1,000 acre-feet per year. LVMWD envisions using about three pods, which would supply about 15% of its water supply, according to LVMWD Public Affairs and Communications Manager Mike McNutt. At the same time, LVMWD’s Pure Water Project Las Virgenes-Triunfo will be operational before 2030 and produce 30% of the district’s supply. Adding that to blue water farm production, and LVMWD estimates it could reduce its reliance on imported water by 45%, McNutt said. 

A single OceanWell pod could produce 1,000 acre-feet of fresh water a year by using hydrostatic water pressure on the seabed to drive the reverse osmosis process. Image courtesy of OceanWell

Traditional onshore desalination plants consume energy to force water through the reverse osmosis process at about 800 pounds-per-square-inch (psi), while OceanWell’s technology will use hydrostatic pressure at the seafloor to apply 600-700 psi through the process, according to OceanWell Director of Engagement Kalyn Simon. While Oceanwell’s recovery time is lower, the trade-off is a process consuming up to 50% less energy.

The concept has been around since reverse osmosis was first developed about 60 years ago but wasn’t within reach until advances in subsea oil and gas extraction technology enhanced the use of remotely operated vehicles on the seafloor, according to Simon.

Ultimately, the potential behind OceanWell’s approach to desalination could answer water supply needs locally and worldwide, McNutt said. 

“We want to assure our communities that we’re investigating all options to diversify our water portfolio without impacting the environment,” McNutt said. “This technology could be implemented anywhere in the world.”

The collaboration comes at an opportune time, as the region recovers from years of record-breaking drought that disproportionately impacted LVMWD’s customers. Diversifying LVMWD’s water portfolio is critical to minimizing future climate change impacts. The strategy includes embracing innovative solutions to create local water resources that reduce the region’s dependence on imported water.

“We are excited to embark on this cutting-edge initiative with OceanWell,” LVMWD General Manager David Pedersen stated in a news release. “Providing clean, healthy, and consistent water to our customers is the most important function of our water utility. Researching new technology can help us ensure a more sustainable and reliable water future.”

“This MOU and the collaboration with LVMWD are a major milestone in our ‘environment first’ strategy, aiming to bring OceanWell water farms to California municipal water systems,” OceanWell Founder and CEO Robert Bergstrom stated in the news release. “After seven years of research and technological development, we are proud to present OceanWell as a sustainable, reliable, and environmentally friendly source of fresh water.”

 

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter — Proposed Making Conservation a California Way of Life Regulation

To: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Comment Letter — Proposed Making Conservation a California Way of Life Regulation Letter excerpt: […]

Making Conservation a CA Way of Life Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Making Conservation a CA Way of Life Fact Sheet – July 2024

The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt the proposed Making Conservation a California Way of Life regulation […]

Regulatory Roundup

The following document is released each month and includes policy updates from ACWA’s Regulatory Department. Click on the below link […]

Quench Toolkit Summer 2024

ACWA’s statewide public education campaign, Quench California, has released new social media graphics and customizable posts to help member agencies […]

Draft Clean Transportation Program Investment Plan and Advisory Committee Meeting

Agency: California Energy Commission Subject: Association of California Water Agencies’ Comments on Draft Clean Transportation Program Investment Plan and Advisory […]

Climate Resilience Bond Coalition Letter

To: California Legislators Subject: Climate Resilience Bond Coalition Letter Letter excerpt: The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and the […]

Coalition Budget Letter – Oppose Funding Reductions for Voluntary Agreements

To: Governor Newsom, Senate Pro Tem McGuire, Assembly Speaker Rivas Letter excerpt: On behalf of the Association of California Water Agencies […]

Comment Letter – Proposed Making Conservation a California Way of Life Regulation

To: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Comment Letter – Proposed Making Conservation a California Way of Life Regulation Letter excerpt: […]

ON DEMAND: 2024 Spring Conference

ACWA’s 2024 Spring Conference ON DEMAND! Thank you to all those who participated in ACWA’s 2024 Spring Conference. This unique […]

ACWA 2024 Spring Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2024 Spring Conference & Expo held May 7-9 in Sacramento are available below. Please note that this […]

ACWA 2024 Spring Conference Attorney Programs

Presentations from the Attorney Programs held during ACWA’s 2024 Spring Conference & Expo May 7-9 in Sacramento are available below. […]

ACWA 2024 Spring Conference Committee Meeting Resources

Resources for ACWA Committee Meetings held during ACWA’s 2024 Spring Conference & Expo are available below.  Agriculture Committee Agenda Work […]

ACWA Climate Change Policy Principles

Climate change impacts in California are occurring, with substantial further effects likely to emerge through this century. Climate change impacts […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
July 19, 2024 ACWA News Available

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Spotlight July 2024: Member Agencies Assist in Boosting Firefighting Air Power

For firefighting helicopters, the fewer minutes between a water source and wildfire is the difference between successful containment and an […]

ACWA Priorities Connect with Water Stewardship and Affordability

ACWA member agencies are stewards of the communities they serve.  In this capacity, they are responsible for the reliability of […]

New Study Reveals Significant Impact of Predation on Native Fish Populations

CENTRAL VALLEY – A groundbreaking five-year study conducted by FISHBIO and a coalition of Central Valley water agencies has uncovered […]

WVWD Begins New Headquarters Transformation

Walnut Valley Water District (WVWD) proudly announces the start of renovations for its new headquarters, marking a pivotal moment in […]

ACWA Continues Advocacy on Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation

ACWA continues to advocate for amendments to the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Advanced Clean Fleet (ACF) regulation to ensure it […]

July 2024 Priority Issues Update Now Available

The July 2024 Priority Issues Update is now available online to members. The update is a summary of the latest […]

EPA Awards PWD $14 Million Loan to Fund Pure Water AV Demonstration Facility

PALMDALE – Palmdale Water District (PWD) is pleased to announce that it has received a $14.8 million Water Infrastructure Finance […]

MWA Family Night Event Brings Water Conveyance To Life

APPLE VALLEY — The Mojave Water Agency (MWA) was filled with the sound of laughter and excitement as families gathered […]

Santa Cruz Water Department Publishes 2023 Water Quality Report in Spanish

SANTA CRUZ – The Santa Cruz Water Department is proud to announce that the 2023 Water Quality Report is now […]

EMWD Celebrates Groundbreaking of San Jacinto Valley Groundwater Treatment Facility

PERRIS — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) today commemorated the groundbreaking of its new San Jacinto Valley Groundwater Treatment Facility […]

General Manager Supports Cost-Saving Conservation Legislation in Sacramento

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — Rowland Water District (RWD) General Manager Tom Coleman spoke before the California State Assembly Committee on Water, […]

WVWD Enhances Local Sustainability with Expanded Recycled Water Infrastructure

WALNUT — Walnut Valley Water District (WVWD) has taken a significant step towards bolstering local water sustainability through the expansion […]

SCV Water Dedicates Water Treatment Plant after the Late Edward G. “Jerry” Gladbach

SCV Water recently held a dedication ceremony to rename its Rio Vista Water Treatment as the E. G. “Jerry” Gladbach […]

Engaging Digital Report Inspires Water Quality Confidence

ROWLAND HEIGHTS — Rowland Water District (RWD) customers can now explore the District’s Annual Water Quality Report through an interactive […]