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About Desalination

Division of Statewide Integrated Water Management

Water Use and Efficiency
901 P Street Sacramento, CA 95814-3515

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236


Water desalination is the removal of salts and dissolved solids from saline water (brackish or seawater), also known as Desalting or Desalinization. In addition to the removal of minerals, the process removes most biological or organic chemical compounds. Most desalination processes are based either on thermal distillation or membrane separation technologies.

Proposition 50 - Chapter 6(a) Water Desalination Grants

In November 2002, California voters passed Proposition 50, the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002. (Division 26.5 of the California Water Code) Chapter 6(a) of Proposition 50 allocated the sum of $50 million for grants for brackish water and ocean water desalination projects. This grant program - administered by DWR - aimed to assist local public agencies to develop new local water supplies through the construction of brackish water and ocean water desalination projects and help advance water desalination technology and its use by means of feasibility studies, research and development, and pilot and demonstration projects. Two rounds of funding were conducted (2004-2006) under this grant program investing about $50 million to support 48 desalination projects including: 7 construction projects, 14 research and development projects, 15 pilots and demonstrations, and 12 feasibility studies.

2005 Desalination Grant Funding (Round 1)
2006 Desalination Grant Funding (Round 2)
 2014 Desalination Grant Funding (Round 3)

Information about other propositions is available at the State of California Bond Accountability web site:

Desalination Handbook

California Desalination Planning Handbook

DWRs California Desalination Planning Handbook is a guide for participants in water supply planning considering desalination options for water supply.  The question of whether to locally implement a desalination project can be a very complicated one.  If a community determines it is appropriate for their needs, this Handbook is a guidance document to use for developing, where appropriate, economically and environmentally acceptable seawater and brackish groundwater desalination facilities in California. The planning process outlined in the Handbook is intended to identify and address the siting, regulatory, technical, environmental and other issues which should be considered in determining whether and how to proceed with a desalination project.

California Water Desalination Task Force

In 2002, the California Legislature approved Assembly Bill 2717 (Hertzberg, Chapter 957), which asked DWR to convene the California Water Desalination Task Force to look into potential opportunities and impediments for using seawater and brackish water desalination, and to examine what role, if any, the State should play in furthering the use of desalination technology. A primary finding of the Task Force is that economically and environmentally acceptable desalination should be considered as part of a balanced water portfolio to help meet California's existing and future water supply and environmental needs. DWR prepared the Findings and Recommendations document to capture the valuable work of the Task Force.

Mobile Water Desalination Units

Mobile water desalination units provide emergency water supply wherever and whenever needed. The units can be easily moved (via air, land, or marine transport) and deployed to drought stricken and water stressed areas. Mobile desalination units provide a very flexible way of supplying potable water to communities by hooking-up to existing municipal water storage and delivery systems. They can also be quickly and easily decommissioned or moved to other locations should drought conditions ease. A report* was prepared in 2009 to address mobile desalination units.

* Please note that this report, titled "LOGISTICS FOR DEPLOYING MOBILE WATER DESALINATION UNITS", is being revised. If you have information that could assist in this revision or have questions about the report, please contact Michael Ross, (916) 651-0717,

Contact DWR's Desalination Staff

Water Recycling and Desalination Staff Contact Information: Follow this link to contact appropriate staff...