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Ocean Plan Requirements for Seawater Desalination Facilities

Seawater Desalination Overview

Desalination facilities produce freshwater by removing salts from brackish or saltwater for municipal, industrial, or other uses. Seawater desalination draws water from the ocean and passes the water through a membrane, resulting in an amount of fresh water and an amount of hypersaline brine. The Ocean Plan includes requirements to ensure the construction and operation of seawater desalination facilities minimize intake and mortality of all forms of marine life. Mitigation measures are required to address harmful impacts to marine life that occur even when a desalination facility uses the best available site, design, and technology feasible. State Water Board Resources Control Board Resolution 2015-0033 describes the responsibility regarding the siting, planning, construction, and operation of desalination plants in the state of California.

California Ocean Plan
Final Staff Report

Draft Seawater Desalination Siting and Streamlining Report to Expedite Permitting

The Draft Seawater Desalination Siting and Streamlining Report to Expedite Permitting (Draft Report) is now available. Staff solicited public comment in July 2023 and anticipate finalizing an updated report for submission to the Governor’s Office in Fall 2023.

State Water Board staff convened a Seawater Desalination Interagency Group, comprised of state and federal agencies that review environmental documents and permit or lease applications for proposed seawater desalination facilities, to develop a report in fulfillment of directives in California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter Drier Future. The Draft Report has no regulatory force or effect but includes interagency recommendations to clarify the most efficient permitting process while ensuring appropriate review of projects.

To learn more about this report, please watch our Informational Webinar, which staff held on July 21, 2023, or view the PDF of webinar slides. The purpose of the informational webinar was to share the impetus and approach for developing the Draft Report and provide an overview of its recommendations, including brief presentations from some of the interagency partners involved in this collaborative effort.

For more information, please contact Clifton Herrmann at

Seawater Desalination Facilities

Region 1 – North Coast
Charles Reed
(707) 576-2752

Region 2 – San Francisco Bay
Thomas Mumley
(510) 622-2395

Region 3 – Central Coast
Peter von Langen
(805) 549-3688

Region 4 – Los Angeles
Jeong-Hee Lim
(951) 576-6616

Region 8 – Santa Ana
Julio Lara
(951) 782-4995

Region 9 – San Diego
Fisayo Osibodu
(619) 521-8036

Contact the State Water Board

Clifton Herrmann
Recycled Water and Desalination Unit
(916) 327-8638

Laura McLellan
Recycled Water and Desalination Unit
(916) 319-8288

Gintare Huckeba
Recycled Water and Desalination Unit
(916) 323-0684