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Pacific water on tap with Indar (Ingeteam Group): Charles Meyer Desalination Plant intake retrofit

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Desalination, used in areas where fresh water is scarce, turns salt water into fresh water. Seawater desalination facilities require an intake system capable of providing a reliable quantity of clean seawater with a minimum ecological impact. This article explains the retrofitting works in the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant intake with a customized Indar (Ingeteam Group) Submersible Volute Pump.

City of Santa Barbara Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant

On July 21, 2015, in response to exceptional drought conditions, the Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously to reactivate the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant. The plant uses state-of-the-art technology and design practices to reduce electricity demand and environmental impacts while providing a critical water supply for the city. City Council awarded IDE Americas, Inc. a design-build-operate contract to re-commission the desalination plant.


Figure 1: Project pipeline 2015-2017

The plant began supplying water in May 2017 with a production of nearly three million gallons per day. This is equivalent to 3,125 acre-feet of water (4.63 million of m3) annually or about 30 percent of the city’s demand; that means about 100,000 inhabitants (including the Montecito community with whom Santa Bárbara has a supply agreement). The desalination plant is an important part of the city’s water supply portfolio, which also includes surface water from Cachuma and Gibraltar reservoirs, groundwater, State water, purchased water, recycled water, and conservation.

The capital costs to reactivate the plant are $72 million financed over 20 years with a low 1.6 percent interest rate loan, which equates to $4.2 million per year in debt service. Annual operating costs are estimated to be about $4.1 million at full production and about $1.5 million in non-operation or standby mode. The plant could be put in standby mode during rainy periods to reduce operating costs.

The desalination plant uses state-of-the-art technology and design practices to reduce electricity demand and environmental impacts

City of Santa Barbara Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant: how does #DESAL work?

Seawater enters the city’s desalination plant from 2,500 feet (763 m) offshore passing through the wedge wire screens at velocities of less than 0.5 feet per second (1.524 m/s) which is less than typical ocean currents (open ocean intake).

Once on shore, the seawater passes through a series of filters that remove sediment, bacteria, viruses, and minerals (including salt), to produce ultra-pure water. The city’s desalination plant uses reverse osmosis to remove salt from seawater.

Desalination is an important part of the city’s supply, also including surface water, groundwater, recycled water, and other sources

Before the finished water is ready to be pumped into the water system and distributed to customers, natural minerals are reintroduced into the water to make it compatible with the city’s other water supplies.

The waste product from the desalination process is referred to as brine and is about twice as salty as normal seawater. The brine is blended with the city’s treated wastewater and is discharged into the ocean over a mile and a half offshore. Discharge flow rates of brine and treated wastewater leaving the city’s outfall pipe are controlled to protect sea life and comply with current regulations.


Figure 3: Desalination process in The Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant. Source. City of Santa Barbara. (1) Location of the seawater intake (open ocean)

Reliable pumping solution: the retrofit

By 2020, IDE technologies, according to the actual operating points over the last three years, updated the technical requirements for the intake pumps. A more adjusted hydraulic selection, tailored for the project’s needs, was chosen for the retrofit of one of the two intake pumps, as the pump was not operating at its best with the current desalination intake needs in terms of flows, heads and material selection.


Figure 4: Project Pipeline 2015-2021

Indar’s submersible pump sets for desalination water intake projects are a technically and environmentally friendly alternative

By the end of 2021, the intake chamber will be retrofitted, replacing one of the original two pumps with a highly efficient Indar (Ingeteam Group) submersible volute pump BF-30-29-B2 + MF-355-4/130. The pump, manufactured in duplex material, will drive a total flow of 4740 US gpm (299 l/s).

The customized submersible pump with mixed flow, single stage and single inlet has an enclosed multi-channel impeller with a big free ball passage. Being projected with a volute diffuser the equipment has been adapted to fit the original layout (intake and discharge) of the intake sump.

The material selection with duplex stainless steel increases corrosion resistance for the equipment taking into account the marine environment for the installation; this fact is crucial to guarantee the optimal operation of the equipment and minimize maintenance stops.

Figure 5: The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant – Dilution Pumping Station

Indar’s value proposition for desalination: new program for the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant

Indar’s submersible pump sets for desalination water intake projects, open ocean and subsurface (slant or not), are a technically and environmentally friendly alternative due to the efficient use of water. Backed by our proven in-house technology, we offer stiff, high performance and almost maintenance free solutions.

Products are important and so are our services and our commitment to customers’ needs and projects. Our worldwide available customer support services teams raise the service to the highest level; they deliver fast, reliable and comprehensive innovative solutions during the total life cycle of the equipment.

Our customer support services teams deliver fast, reliable and comprehensive innovative solutions during the life cycle of the equipment

By mid-2021, Indar (Ingeteam Group) has signed a three-year Life Extension Program with POSEIDON WATER LLC for the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant – Dilution Pumps. This program includes a spare parts logistic solution, training, on-site periodic inspections, data analysis and a warranty extension of the supplied equipment for the desalination plant: three Indar high-tech customized fish-friendly submersible pumps: H-1800-1697 +S-450-X/8 manufactured in super duplex material and operated with variable frequency drives to accommodate any potential demands in the plant.

With this new project in Santa Barbara and the contract with POSEIDON WATER LLC, Indar (Ingeteam Group) offers its know-how and expertise in integrated water management to raise our environmental value proposition for our customers.