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Government and Politics

Santa Barbara city council set to vote on desalination plant

City of Santa Barbara

The first public move toward restarting Santa Barbara's mothballed desalination plant will be presented to the city council tomorrow.

The plant was used briefly in the 1990s to turn salty sea water into a source of potable drinking water for the city. It's been sitting idle now for more than 20 years.

"When we shut it down in '92, we went through a full process to get it permitted permanently, and we received those permanent permits in '96," said Joshua Haggmark, interim water resources manager for the city. "We're kind of moving forward with that mindset, but I think there might be some permitting agencies who feel differently about that."

Council members will be asked Tuesday whether they want to fund a package totaling more than $900,000 to determine the costs, technologies and permitting required to get the plant up and running again.

Should the contact be approved, it would pave the way for the council to vote again about a year from now on restarting the plant.