Desalinated Water Plant for Region One Step Closer

Coquina Coast Desalination Project Team Recommends Land-Based Plant for Further Study

Palm Coast, Fla. – January 25, 2010 – The first phase of work on the Coquina Coast Seawater Desalination Project has concluded with a recommendation that local governments continue evaluating a land-based seawater desalination facility.  This recommendation and others are made in the Final Recommended Project Report issued Jan. 22, 2010, by consultant Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.
The report summarizes nearly 12 months of efforts by the project participants to identify the most appropriate seawater desalination alternative to be located in St. Johns, Flagler or Volusia County.  The Coquina Coast project participants for Phase 1 included the cities of Palm Coast, DeLand, Mount Dora, Leesburg, Bunnell and Flagler Beach; the now-disbanded Water Authority of Volusia; Flagler, Marion and St. Johns counties; Dunes Community Development District and the St. Johns River Water Management District.
The goal of Phase 1 was to evaluate whether a possible future desalination plant would be better based on a vessel offshore, on land, or a combination of both.
Using evaluation criteria identified by the project participants, the project team ranked individual project alternatives and issued the following recommendations:

  • Eliminate vessel-based desalination from further consideration due to demand projections, cost, local ocean conditions and depth, potential for storm-related ocean swells and lack of large-scale, vessel-based operating experience,
  • Continue with the evaluation of land-based desalination alternatives;
  • Phase construction of a desalination facility to align with demand, thereby reducing cost impacts to the participants and their customers;
  • Conduct the necessary water quality, hydrogeological, geotechnical and other studies necessary to identify the preferred intake and concentrate discharge alternatives;
  • Determine the organizational makeup, or governance, of the final group of suppliers that will implement the project to assure funding success and project implementation;
  • Maximize future outside funding for the project so that rate impacts are reduced; and
  • Further investigate options to reduce energy consumption and incorporate renewable energy supplies into the project.

The project participants’ evaluation criteria included environmental stewardship, project reliability, permittability, risk and comparative cost.
“This  report provides a strong foundation for the more detailed analyses to be done in Phase 2,” said Richard Adams, City of Palm Coast public works director.  “We can now focus our efforts on determining the size, location and design of an environmentally sustainable and affordable facility.”
Also included in the Phase 1 report are engineer’s opinion of probable construction costs for the desalination plant (including intake and concentrate discharge pipelines) and the transmission system to deliver desalinated water to local governments.  The estimated cost for a 25-million gallon per day desalination facility is approximately $4.50 per 1000 gallons of treated water. 
The Coquina Coast Plant engineer’s estimates are comparable to other operating seawater desalination facilities worldwide, including the 32 mgd Perth, Australia plant which produces water for $4.00 per 1,000 gallons.
The costs for a desalination project are site-specific and depend on several variables, including source water quality, location, plant capacity, regulatory requirements and more.  According to the 2008 Global Water Intelligence/International Desalination Association Inventory, desalinated water costs vary from $2.10 to $5.80 per 1000 gallons.  The average cost is $3.24 per thousand gallons.
The estimated cost for the Coquina Coast transmission system is approximately $1.16 per thousand gallons.  The estimated costs are based on a number of assumptions, including intake pipeline length, finished water quality, transmission system length, pipe diameter and so on.  The estimated costs are net present value and include capital costs, operations and maintenance as well as financing costs. Estimates are expected to be refined as the project is better defined in Phase 2.
Project participants are currently developing a scope of work for Phase 2 of the project that will include siting, additional environmental assessments and preliminary design of the selected option. The capacity of the proposed project will also be determine in Phase 2, which is scheduled to begin in May 2010 and be completed in Spring 2014.
Seawater desalination is under investigation because future groundwater withdrawals in the region will be limited to protect the environment and ensure a sustainable resource.  Alternative water supplies must be developed to reduce reliance on groundwater supplies and to meet the public’s future drinking water needs.  Projections show that alternative water supplies will be needed in the 2017 to 2020 timeframe.
Conservation and reusing water continue to play an important role in sustaining existing groundwater supplies, reducing demands and extending existing supplies.  However, studies of supply and demand indicate that even with conservation and reuse, the Coquina Coast project participants will still need alternative water supplies to protect groundwater resources and meet future drinking water needs.
For more information on the Coquina Coast Seawater Desalination Project, go to  The Coquina Coast Project is a partnership among the cities of Palm Coast, DeLand, Mount Dora, Leesburg, Bunnell and Flagler Beach; the Water Authority of Volusia; Flagler, Marion and St. Johns counties; Dunes Community Development District and the St. Johns River Water Management District.
1 reply
  1. George Meegan
    George Meegan says:

    But we don’t need it, no demand present.

    The whole study is based on population growths that did not and will not occur at the origionaly projected timetable. The study is done, so is the project, stop spending on a non start.

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