What is West Basin Municipal Water District?

A wholesale water agency servicing 17 cities throughout LA County, West Basin has historically been a leader in sensible water management, promoting conservation to reduce water waste and water recycling to enhance local supplies. But in pursuit of this unnecessary, expensive, environmentally disastrous desalination plant, West Basin is turning its back on smarter water.

Who are we?

The Smarter Water LA coalition believes cost-effective and environmentally beneficial local water supply options should take precedence over ocean desalination.


Aren't we in a drought? Don't we need more water?

It's true that LA was severely impacted by California's historic 6 year drought. The state is technically drought-free after a winter of heavy rain and snow in 2018-19. However, LA does need to stabilize and localize our water supply, rather than remaining on this drought-or-drenched rollercoaster.

But we can do that without desal. LA should pursue a holistic, integrated approach to water management, and focus on affordable, environmentally conscious methods to develop its water portfolio.  Thankfully, LA County leaders and voters agree. Ambitious and much needed initiatives to conserve (reduce), capture rain (reuse), purify wastewater (recycle), and clean up our groundwater (restore) are in place throughout the region.


Isn't desal working in Australia?

Not so much. Of the six desalination plants built during Australia's drought, four have been mothballed. Plants in Victoria and Sydney Kurnell have produced no water since they opened in 2012, and they cost taxpayers billions every year. While these plants sit idle, taxpayers foot the bill to cover the cost of their operation - even while no water is produced!


What about San Diego?

Actually, the desal plant in Carlsbad turned out to be a hugely unnecessary investment. The $1 billion project contributed to a strange phenomenon San Diego faced while the rest of the state was parched: a gross oversupply of water. During the height of the California drought, San Diego was dumping over 500 million gallons of desalinated drinking water into a lake near Chula Vista to deal with the overabundance of water pressing against storage limits. Plus, the desalinated seawater cost San Diego water agencies hundreds of millions of dollars per year - more than double what they pay for imported water - which triggered rate increases for most San Diego households.

Visit our NEWS section for more information.

Did you know?

In a 2015 report, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment's Water in the West Program concluded that desalination "is unlikely to be a major part of California’s water supply portfolio due to its high cost of operation, the availability of other sources of water (such as recycled wastewater), its high energy use and the resulting high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, and siting difficulties given the fragility and importance of California’s coastal ecosystems."

Visit our RESEARCH page to learn more.