Santa Barbara Desalination Plant (USA)

Refurbishing a 20-year old SWRO plant to meet 21st century needs

The Santa Barbara desalination plant addresses the growing water demands that resulted from severe drought in CA.

The original plant was constructed in 1991 and deactivated in 1992. Twenty-three years later, the city decided to reactivate to plant after a long-term standby mode followed by persistent drought.

A significant engineering, new design and updated intake structure, brine discharge system, and other modifications were implemented in the refit process to contribute significantly to the city’s water needs.


  • Capacity: 10,560 m³/day
  • Technology: Reverse Osmosis (RO)
  • Project Type: Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC), Operation & Maintenance (0&M)
  • Location: USA
  • Footprint: 1.45 acres
  • Commissioning date: May 2017
  • Flexible project structure to meet the municipality’s needs

    A DBO (Design-Build-Operate) project structure allowed the city of Santa Barbara to maintain ownership of the plant while IDE designed, built and operates the plant to deliver agreed capacity.

  • Lowest desalination water costs

    The plant is fully automated and modular in construction, meaning capex and opex were significantly reduced.

  • Proprietary DOHS

    Process maintains constantly clean membranes without chemicals and without stopping the RO train.

  • Faster and more economical construction

    Prefabrication and preassembly meant construction time and costs were significantly reduced.

  • Highly economical operation

    Monitoring and most maintenance takes place directly in the skid, thus further reducing opex.

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