Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to use desalinated water in Arizona will be pricey, expert says

May 6, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: 4:54 pm
A farmer shows the desalinated water used to water sown field at the Atacama desert, in the outskir...
A farmer shows the desalinated water used to water sown field at the Atacama desert, in the outskirts of Antofagasta. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)
(MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is making a push to bring desalinated water to the state with a potential $1 billion investment, but an expert says that is going to be expensive.

“That water will cost a lot more money than what we’re used to paying now, at least double, or in some case triple, for the raw water,” Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Buschatzke estimates an acre-foot of desalinated water could cost in the ballpark of $3,000, while non-desalinated water is typically $50 to $150 per acre-foot.

He said a family of three in the metro Phoenix area uses about 1 acre-foot of water a year and that cities would decide what the final water prices are for consumers.

Buschatzke said the state is probably around a decade away from being able to use desalinated water, which he stresses does work.

“The technology for (desalinated) is proven and the cost because of the technology improvements is going down,” he said.

The city of Goodyear has a small desalination plant where it takes underground water that is salty, which Buschatzke calls brackish groundwater, and cleans it for use.

The plan includes helping fund the building of a desalination plant in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. The state would not own the plant but would buy water from it. Buschatzke estimates the cost to build the plant would be in the neighborhood of $2.5-3 billion.

Ducey’s plan now hangs in the balance of the state legislature and it is expected to be voted on by the end of the session.

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Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to use desalinated water in Arizona will be pricey, expert says