Negotiations between Poseidon Resources and various city and water agencies are underway in hopes to determine potential bidders of desalinated water.
Poseidon Resources, which have had talks with the city of Huntington Beach about building a desalination plant, have released a draft outline that explains the parameters of the project, including the cost to purchase the water it produces.
Cities and water agencies can now submit non-binding letters of intent to Poseidon, giving the business a better understanding of the demand of desalinated water, Poseidon spokesperson Brian Lochrie said.
The sample letter of intent posted on the Municipal Water District of Orange County's website asks potential bidders how much water they would purchase from Poseidon.
The cost of producing desalinated water from Poseidon's plant is estimated to be $1,424 per acre foot, according to a press release by MWDOC.
Though the price only considers the production cost, a $250 per acre foot discount from the Metropolitan Water District was factored into the cost.
Despite the subsidy, Poseidon is estimating delivery costs to be an additional $94 to 138 per acre foot.
Lochrie said the price for their water may currently be steep, but costs could potentially decrease depending on "technological advances" in desalination production in the future.
Poseidon has old intent letters from various cities and water agencies, but expects to receive current propositions from them, Lochrie said.
"If there's a [desalination] plant in Huntington Beach, I expect it to be something advantageous to the city," Councilman Jim Katapodis said.
Katapodis said he is "on the fence" about this issue and said he will wait to see what Poseidon has to offer.
The search for a new water source has been an ongoing quest for the state of California Desalination — the process of removing salt from saline water — has been an option floating around for many coastal cities, including Huntington Beach.
The plant would draw in sea water by tapping into AES's pipes and purify it using a method called reverse osmosis.
Sea water travels through a membrane with tiny holes, separating salt and other minerals and producing high-quality drinking water, Lochrie said.
"It's an option, but we need to look at all the options," Pacific Institute water program coordinator Heather Cooley said.
Pacific Institute is a nonprofit research group that focuses on environmental protection and water issues.
Cooley said there are other, cheaper alternatives that cities and other water agencies should consider before looking into desalination.
Options like storm water capture and treatment, brackish water desalination or better water conservation efforts are choices cities have to consider, Cooley said.
"You have to look at each city individually," she said.
Cooley added that the process is energy intensive and with electricity prices expected to go up, so will the cost of the water.