California, the state with the highest water usage in the United States, is currently facing a severe drought that has resulted in significant water shortages. While various solutions have been proposed to improve the water shortage problem, such as building more dams or improving systems to capture runoff water, these solutions rely on freshwater supplies that are currently deficient due to the drought. Desalination, on the other hand, offers a drought-proof method for producing large amounts of clean water. Despite its high energy costs, desalination has the potential to reduce the total energy footprint of water production if it replaces the energy-intensive process of importing water via aqueducts. Although desalination is not a universal solution, California should consider increasing investment and construction of desalination plants along its coast. To accomplish this, regulators of the California Coastal Commission should approve the expansion of desalination development rather than oppose new coastal builds. While desalination may be more expensive than other options, it is more reliable during droughts as it can access the nearly unlimited resource of ocean water. Although California may experience price hikes in water prices in the short-term, with technological advancements and economies of scale, the long-term price of potable water is expected to decrease, ultimately allowing California to meet public water demands.
Davenport, Andrew (2023) "Desalination Can Provide Relief to California’s Water Problem," Pepperdine Policy Review: Vol. 15, Issue 1. Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/ppr/vol15/iss1/