A Californian start-up is investigating the feasibility of harvesting freshwater from desalination pods on the ocean floor.
OceanWell is partnering with Las Virgenes Municipal Water District (LVMWD) in southern California to pilot the state’s first "blue water farm". The project will be the first to use OceanWell's purification technology to create a new supply of drinking water.
OceanWell says its technology has the potential to turn any raw water source into drinking water, without the environmental impacts of traditional desalination methods, which is energy intensive and creates a brine byproduct that can harm eco-systems.
"After seven years of research and technological development, we are proud to present a sustainable, reliable and environmentally friendly source of fresh water."
The collaboration comes as southern California recovers from years of record-breaking drought. To minimise future climate change impacts, LVMWD is exploring innovative solutions to create local water resources and reduce dependence on imported supplies.
David Pedersen, LVMWD general manager, "We are excited to embark on this cutting-edge initiative with OceanWell.
"Providing clean, healthy and consistent water to our customers is the most important function of our water utility. Researching new technology can help us to ensure a more sustainable and reliable water future."
OceanWell's purification pods use water pressure to drive the reverse osmosis process, which separates water from salt. By placing the pods at depths of up to 426m, natural water pressure will help power the filtration process, using up to 40% less energy than conventional desalination.
OceanWell estimates it can make around 38 million litres of fresh water every day. It says the system is low energy, scalable and minimises the need for onshore facilities, while protecting marine life.
Robert Bergstrom, OceanWell's founder, said, "The collaboration with LVMWD is a major milestone in our 'environment first' strategy, aiming to bring OceanWell water farms to California municipal water systems. After seven years of research and technological development, we are proud to present OceanWell as a sustainable, reliable and environmentally friendly source of fresh water."
LVMWD serves more than 75,000 residents in the cities of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Westlake Village and areas of western Los Angeles County. The pilot project will be undertaken in the district’s Las Virgenes Reservoir in the City of Westlake Village.