Pictured: The new North Pleasant Valley Desalter Facility is designed to mitigate increasing salt levels in groundwater. Image from Camarillo staff report. 

by Kimberly Rivers

On Jan. 13, the Camarillo City Council approved a five-year contract with Inframark LLC for operations of the new North Pleasant Valley Desalter Facility project, located near the junction of Las Posas Road and Lewis Road, slated to be in operation by the end of this year. 

According to the city staff presentation, the project once fully operational is designed to treat 4,500 acre-feet per year of “brackish” groundwater yielding 3,800 acre feet per year of usable water, roughly 40% of the city’s water needs. City reports say the facility will allow a currently unused source of water to be used, and will double the city’s water supply using reverse osmosis technology. 

Camarillo sees the project as an important solution the growing problem of saltwater in groundwater aquifers and the desalting process will, according to the city, stop the “salt plume from spreading to the main portion of the Pleasant Valley [groundwater] basin.” 

The facility will remove salt from water with salt content that is too high for drinking water. The waste product will be pumped via an existing brine pipeline, the Calleguas Regional Salinity Management Pipeline (SMP), and discharged into the ocean at Port Hueneme. That pipeline already services several desalters in Simi Valley, Moorpark and the Camrosa Water District in the Santa Rosa Valley.

Inframark LLC has offices in Texas and Pennsylvania and according to the company’s website operates water facilities in 19 states. For the two-phase contract, Inframark will assist with the coordination of the final construction phase of the facility, as well as the start up, testing and state permitting, and then oversee all ongoing operations. 

The contract includes an initial requirement of 24-hour staffing of the facility for the first year, and then a proposal that, if approved by the city, the staffing could be reduced to a single eight-hour shift. The total cost for the five-year contract, with approval of the single eight-hour shift, is $8,827,000. If the city requires 24-hour staffing the total five-year cost is $11,415,942. 

The city will pay for electricity, chemicals and operation of the supply wells in addition to the staffing. 

The total project cost is just under $70 million, with about $26.4 million coming from state and federal grants. An additional $40 million is funded by local water funds and a revenue bond. Overall the city reports that the project will save nearly $50 million over 20 years of operations, which is the difference in the cost of water from the state. 

Camarillo completed the facility design in 2018 and it is currently being built by Fresno-based, W.M. Lyles Co. Construction has been underway for more than a year. According to the California Natural Resources Agency, the original plan was for the desalter to be operational by spring 2020. 

The Camarillo City Water system serves two-thirds of city residents. 

To view the city council discussion and complete contract visit: LINK TO ARTICLE.