Desperate from Drought, California Turns to Desalination

April 8, 2015 9:15 AM

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As California battled its last severe drought in the early 1990s, Santa Barbara spent $34 million on a desalination plant that proved too costly to keep running when rain returned. Now, the city can’t afford to keep it idle.

“Show me how we conserve our way out of this if these conditions continue,” said Joshua Haggmark, water resources manager for the city, located 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, during a tour of the facility he’s working to reboot by the end of next year. “If a business doesn’t ha...

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