Carlsbad, Local Companies Lead the Way on Combating Water CrisisJuly 18, 2022
The ongoing drought is California’s worst drought in recorded history. In fact, the historic megadrought in the Golden State and the American Southwest is now considered the driest 22-year period in the region in the past 1,200 years.
The worsening drought has forced millions of Californians to face new mandatory water restrictions. Carlsbad and San Diego County, however, are uniquely positioned for dry conditions.
- Carlsbad is home to the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.
- The City has one of the most robust recycled water systems in the state.
- Eleven companies in Carlsbad have earned the California Green Business Network Certification, which is administered by the Carlsbad Green Business Program.
While the county’s water costs are 26% higher than surrounding metropolitan counties, the region is also decades ahead in terms of water storage and supply. In fact, the San Diego County Water Authority estimated that it has enough water supplies through 2045, even if long-running dry conditions continue.
“The San Diego County Water Authority has worked very hard over the last few decades to try to diversify where we get water from, to open up opportunities, and to prepare our region for these types of challenges,” said A.J. van de Ven, CEO and president of Carlsbad-based Calsense, a manufacturer of irrigation controllers and water-saving accessories. “I’m proud to be in San Diego County, where we’ve made these strides.”
Over the past three decades, the county prioritized conservation, diversified its water supply, and invested in a desalination plant and other infrastructure improvements. Many of these efforts have taken place in Carlsbad, which has one of the most robust recycled water systems in the state.
The City is also home to the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. The plant is managed by Carlsbad-based Poseidon Water.
“Carlsbad has done a phenomenal job with the desalination plant,” van de Ven said. “That was a great public-private partnership.”
The Poseidon plant provides 50 million gallons of high-quality, fresh drinking water to 400,000 county residents each day. This water supply is the county’s largest single local water source, accounting for 38% of all local water.
The Poseidon plant located in Carlsbad California
The Poseidon plant is the first water infrastructure project in California to have a net carbon of zero. It is 100% locally controlled, meaning it does not have to be imported from Northern California or the Colorado River. And it’s drought-proof. It’s the only water supply in the county that is not dependent on rainfall and snowpack.
“It’s impressive to see Carlsbad manages its own water and be on the forefront with driving the initiative to get the desal plant put in, as well as what they’ve been doing with reclaimed water,” van de Ven said.
Calsense is a manufacturer of irrigation controllers and water-saving accessories. Credit: Calsense
Other Carlsbad companies have also come up with innovative ways to combat the water crisis. This includes Calsense, where engineers design and assemblers make smart irrigation solutions that conserve water and save money.
The company is a partner with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s WaterSense program in promoting water efficient products and services. WaterSense-labeled products have helped consumers and businesses save more than 6.4 trillion gallons of water over the past 16 years, according to the EPA.
Calsense products put users of irrigation in the position of being able to reduce irrigation water usage by up to 40%, van de Ven said.
“We were established with the premise of trying to make a difference and reduce water waste,” he said.
Calsense was founded in 1986 at the start of one of the state’s longest droughts. The company’s original product was a soil moisture sensor, which would stop irrigation when the moisture content for a given area crossed a certain threshold.
The technology has evolved to maximize landscape potential and prevent water waste. Today, Calsense-controlled irrigation systems utilize on-site weather sensors and web-based weather data to determine when and where to irrigate.
“As we’ve evolved, we’ve taken more approaches of using different algorithms to determine based on your soil type and the angle of your slope how much water you should put down at any given time to prevent runoff,” said van de Ven, who noted that the City uses Calsense’s irrigation controllers. “The technology determines how much water to use versus how much water not to use to make sure that we’re not overusing.”
Calsense-controlled irrigation systems utilize on-site weather sensors and web-based weather data to determine when and where to irrigate. Credit: Calsense
Calsense-controlled irrigation systems also detect leaks and breaks within the systems.
“Our system is really good at notifying in real-time the issues that occur so that we can help broaden that impact and help make sure that we’re looking at it holistically and helping to save water in every possible way that we can,” van de Ven said.
For over 35 years, Calsense has contributed to providing a sustainable future by developing water resource management tools and strategies. The company was recently recognized for its sustainability efforts and attained its California Green Business Network Certification, which is administered by the Carlsbad Green Business Program. Eleven companies in Carlsbad are fully certified, so far.
“The way that Carlsbad organized this whole thing was actually pretty phenomenal,” van de Ven said.
“This is what a City can accomplish when they support local businesses like ours,” he added.
“There’s a sense of community and support that the City of Carlsbad provides us and businesses like ours that just feels incredible. We’re proud to be here in Carlsbad.”
The City of Carlsbad and Carlsbad-based businesses are doing their part to combat the water crisis, from sustainable City-led programs to innovative solutions from local companies.
Click here to apply to be a Green Business or learn more about the Carlsbad Green Business Program.