Doheny Ocean Desalination Project & Environmental Protection

Protecting our environment and our economy

The proposed Doheny Ocean Desalination Project would be environmentally friendly. The subsurface slant well intake technology would eliminate harmful entrainment of marine life, which is typically an issue with offshore open intake systems. We, as South County residents, understand the precious nature of our environment and marine life. We value our beach lifestyle and economic well-being. Visitors come from all over the world to stay in our five-star hotels and experience what we enjoy when we wake up every day. Our world-renowned beaches, beautifully carved coastline, and abundance of marine life, including whales and dolphins, are economic drivers for our community.
The proposed project would use a slant well water intake system buried beneath the ocean floor to ensure protection of the marine life. Naturally filtered by sand and rock, it will draw ocean water with no significant impact on inland groundwater. The slant well technology prevents marine life from being harmed by the desalination facility. 

This technology is preferred by state regulators and environmental groups as opposed to more traditional open-intake pipes that draw surface water and have an adverse effect on the environment and marine life.

Hidden slant wells at Doheny State Beach could deliver enough ocean water to the desalination facility to initially yield 4 to 5 million gallons a day (MGD) of local potable water. The facility also could eventually be scaled up to produce 15 MGD.

The one other technical challenge associated with desalination is the resulting brine, which is the salty water left over from the desalination process. In the project considered so far, brine would be sent to the nearby South Orange County Wastewater Authority outfall pipeline, mixed with treated wastewater and discharged into the ocean over two miles off the coast, eliminating environmental concerns.

Doheny Desalination Slant Well Schematic


Lower San Juan Creek and Seasonal Lagoon Habitat Assessment