Michael Baker Selected to Develop Test Desalination Facility in San Diego County

February 18, 2016

Project to Evaluate Two Different Seawater Intake Methods

This past fall, the San Diego County Water Authority selected Michael Baker International to design, build and operate a pilot seawater desalination system, which will be located at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Once completed, the test facility will analyze the merits of two different ocean water intake approaches over a one-year period – one that gathers water using a screen near the bottom of the ocean, and another that collects water below the seafloor. 

The results of these tests will help identify the most feasible, cost-effective and environmentally sensitive way to implement a desalination intake at the base that is consistent with new state regulations.

“Michael Baker’s work on this initiative could pave the way for possible development of a full-scale water treatment facility here in the years to come,” said Bob Schlesinger, San Diego office executive for Michael Baker. “The San Diego County Water Authority has said that a potential desalination project at Camp Pendleton could serve as a long-term water supply option for the region.”

In the last 10 years, Michael Baker has played an integral role in developing and implementing water solutions for West Coast communities. This includes work for California American Water on the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project, where Michael Baker experts provided engineering, planning and permitting services to replace more than 80 percent of the water supply for the Monterey Peninsula.  The integrated solution included a seawater desalination plant, storage reservoirs, transmission pipelines and storage wells. 

“Michael Baker’s selection for this initiative comes at a time when communities across the west continue to deal with the far-reaching effects of a record-setting drought, which is fueling a growing belief among regional leaders that they need to look to the ocean to address the escalating demand for a reliable water supply,” added Anna Lantin, national practice lead for water at Michael Baker.  “Our wide body of work in California sets us apart as a go-to solutions provider to help those communities meet their needs – for today and tomorrow.” 

Michael Baker’s role in the Camp Pendleton Intake Testing Program includes environmental permitting, design, construction, operation, and collection and analysis of data during the testing period.  At the completion of the test, Michael Baker will prepare a report with a projected cost analysis for operation of a full-scale plant and then decommission and remove the pilot facility.