LOS ANGELES — A water district known for supplying celebrities and affluent communities like Hidden Hills and Calabasas is trying a new approach for collecting fresh water.

The Las Virgenes Municipal Water district is studying the feasibility of harvesting drinking water from desalination pods on the ocean’s floor.

LA Times reporter Hayley Smith joined Lisa McRee on “LA Times Today” with more on the potential benefits and risks of this pilot program. 

The Las Virgenes district has come under fire for using more than its fair share of water in the past. Smith explained how this new idea could provide new sources of water for the community. 

“Essentially, what they want to do is they want to place desalination pods, like 40-foot-wide pods, on the sea floor off the coast of California. they say that by doing it there, they can convert up to 10 million gallons of fresh water a day, avoid a lot of the downsides of traditional desalination and really help ease up their reliance on other supplies,” she said. 

Smith talked about how this process differs from traditional, energy intensive desalination processes that filter ocean water through filters to convert it to fresh water.

“What this company is saying is that by doing this in the deep ocean, 1,400 feet deep off the coast, they can reduce their energy costs by almost half by just using the natural pressure of the ocean to power a lot of the process. Instead of having to use pumps and all these filters that are running on fossil fuels, they can just use the weight of the ocean to do this,” Smith said.

Another downside of desalination is a sludgy byproduct that harms sea creatures. The company behind the pods says their process produces less byproduct and will not harm sea life.

This process will be tested in the Las Vegas Reservoir before they deploy pods off the coast of California by 2028.

Still, environmental concerns persist. 

“I spoke to the Sierra Club, who said that they liked that this particular process would solve some of those problems or at least mitigate them. But they still have concerns about what are the long-term effects of this. They say it has no effect on sea life. But what if we’re doing this for ten years, 50 years, 100 years? No one really knows at this point the long-term effects on the ocean,” Smith said. 

Click the arrow above to watch the full interview.

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