Camarillo Desalter Moves One Step Closer to Completion

Camarillo, California – Camarillo is moving another step closer to project completion in awarding a five-year operations service contract to Inframark LLC for the operations of the North Pleasant Valley Desalter (Desalter). 

The Desalter will yield not only environmental benefits, but financial benefits as well. In addition to achieving major regional environmental improvement by removing salts from the area watershed in compliance with State regulatory requirements, this significant capital project will treat an unusable source of groundwater, thereby allowing for the reuse of impaired City groundwater wells and reducing the City’s reliance on imported State water.  

Achieving this type of water independence comes with a significant upfront capital expenditure but will result in long term cost-savings. The $66.3 million project will be funded by $26.4 million in federal and state grants, and the remaining $40 million will be funded by existing water enterprise funds and revenue bond issuance. The City is expected to save nearly $50 million over twenty years, due to the lower cost of Desalter water compared to expensive imported State water. The lower cost of water produced by the Desalter will translate into customer water rates not having to be increased as much in the future, compared to if the Desalter was not constructed, requiring the City to rely heavily on imported State water. 

Construction of the Desalter facility, located near the northwest corner of Las Posas Road and Lewis Road, has been underway for more than year and is expected to be complete and fully operational in the fall of 2021. The facility will treat brackish groundwater and produce approximately 3,800 acre-feet per year of potable water, representing approximately 40% of the City’s overall water supply. The City water system serves roughly two-thirds of City residents, while the other residents are served by other water districts including Camrosa, Pleasant Valley Mutual, California American, and Crestview Water Districts.  

After an extensive Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals selection process, the Camarillo City Council, at their meeting on January 13, 2021, awarded a five-year operations service contract to Inframark LLC, for the operations of the Desalter facility. 

The Desalter facility, while not the first of its kind, is uniquely designed for the distinctive makeup of the groundwater being treated and Camarillo’s specific water distribution system. This unique facility requires an exclusive operations contract to fit the needs of the operation of the facility. This contract has two phases: one for the operator’s involvement/input/coordination during final construction, start up, testing and State permitting of the Desalter; and another for ongoing operations. This is designed to invest the operator in the final steps of the Desalter and benefit from their extensive experience with operating similar facilities. Furthermore, there are extensive contract requirements to ensure the operator is maintaining all the various equipment and systems to protect the City’s significant capital investment, while at the same time guaranteeing water quantity and quality for years to come. 

In this video clip from the 2020 State of the City video, Public Works Director, Dave Klotzle, discusses the Desalter project:  

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