Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant

Owner Poseidon Water
Lead Designer Mott MacDonald
Contractor Kiewit Shea Desalination, a Joint Venture of Kiewit Infrastructure West and J.F., Shea Construction Inc.
Architect Arcadis U.S. Inc.
Engineer IDE Technologies Ltd.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis facility was the first large-scale seawater desalination plant to be built in California, and the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

The project, a public-private partnership between Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority, has been delivering water successfully since December 2015. One Best Projects judge said the “timeliness and relevance of this innovative project relative to California’s water crisis put me over the top” in voting for it.

The project supported an estimated 2,500 jobs and infused $350 million into the local economy, according to Poseidon Water. It also serves as a guidepost to develop more than a dozen other proposed desalination projects throughout California. Poseidon Water is working with state agencies to obtain the permits necessary to begin construction on a similar project in Huntington Beach.

The 50-million-gallon-per-day plant was built adjacent to the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad so that it would be able to draw seawater from a 66-acre portion of a lagoon used for cooling water.

A joint venture team built the $1-billion plant and 10-mile pipeline to convey water to the county’s water transmission system. To reduce energy consumption, Poseidon uses 144 highly efficient energy recovery devices that can save an estimated 146 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year and reduce carbon emissions by 42,000 metric tons annually. The plant also includes solar panels on the roof to reduce its energy footprint.

Poseidon Water negotiated a 30-year water purchase agreement for the plant with the San Diego County Water Authority in Southern California that also required the developer to bear all risk during the project’s construction phase.

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