Even in 2015, the New York Times is still pretending that desalination does not exist

The New York Times just published this article on California’s water shortage:

California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth

A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.

April 4, 2015

LOS ANGELES — For more than a century, California has been the state where people flocked for a better life — 164,000 square miles of mountains, farmland and coastline, shimmering with ambition and dreams, money and beauty. It was the cutting-edge symbol of possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards.

But now a punishing drought — and the unprecedented measures the state announced last week to compel people to reduce water consumption — is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature.

The 25 percent cut in water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown raises fundamental questions about what life in California will be like in the years ahead…

… the scarcity of water could result in a decline in housing construction, at a time when there has been a burst of desperately needed residential development in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The article contains exactly zero mention of desalination as a solution to these problems.

Apparently, the New York Times would rather complain about California’s water shortage, than propose a way to actually solve the problem.

The same New York Times article also states:

… even California’s biggest advocates are wondering if the severity of this drought, now in its fourth year, is going to force a change in the way the state does business.

Can Los Angeles continue to dominate as the country’s capital of entertainment and glamour, and Silicon Valley as the center of high tech, if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists worry about coming? Will businesses continue their expansion in places like San Francisco and Venice?

The New York Times’s claim about “even California’s biggest advocates” is false. In the real world, California’s “biggest advocates” are in favor of desalination. The fact that the New York Times says otherwise proves that its writers are living in a fantasyland.

Meanwhile, in the real world, this other article, which is from McClatchy, says that desalination has allowed Israel to stop worrying about water shortages:

Israel no longer worried about its water supply, thanks to desalination plants

March 20, 2014

HADERA, Israel — Israel has gone through one of the driest winters in its history, but despite the lean rainy season, the government has suspended a longstanding campaign to conserve water.

Israel has in recent years achieved a quiet water revolution through desalination.

Some 80 percent of domestic water use in Israeli cities comes from desalinated water…

“There’s no water problem because of the desalination,” said Hila Gil, director of the desalination division in the Israel Water Authority. “The problem is no longer on the agenda.”

Israel’s experience might also offer some important lessons, or at least contrast, for states like California.

Each of Israel’s plants cost between $300 million and $450 million to build. The plants are privately owned and operated, under a contract with the government, which buys the water from the plants. The budget for water purchases comes from water charges to consumers. The plants are not subsidized.

Desalinated water at the Soreq plant is produced at the price of 52 cents a cubic meter

Wow! Those numbers are quite impressive: 80% of Israel’s domestic water comes from desalination, it costs only 52 cents per cubic meter, and it doesn’t even require any government subsidies.

California has a population density of 246 people per square mile. Israel, by comparison, has a population density of 1,004 people per square mile.

In other words, Israel’s population density is more than four times that of California’s.

And yet, while Israel has enough water for its people, the New York Times falsely claims that California has reached its limits of growth, and could not supply water for any additional people.

Israel has chosen desalination over water shortages.

California, by comparison, has chosen water shortages over desalination.

And the New York Times has chosen to ignore reality.

April 6, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Desalination, Environmentalism, Media bias, Overpopulation, Politics, Technology.


  1. hmichaelh replied:

    An absence of water is only one explanation for the problems California is having. It’s business unfriendly with high taxes, its Liberal politics makes it a cesspool for welfare recipients, it’s silly and expensive projects, such as the high speed train to and from nowhere, are bankrupting the citizens, and up and down the State the citizens keep electing Democrats to run their cities and Counties. It’s very difficult for me to evoke much sympathy for those who continue to live in California. The water shortage is surely an act of nature, but all the rest they have brought upon themselves.

    • Benjamin Harrison replied:

      Southern California is a desert climate, and it always has been for recorded history. They need to pump in water from outside to operate. With desalination being as tried and proven as it has been in the Middle East, they could use additional desalination to provide household water, and that would be meaningful. I am not sure that California can continue to supply industrial and agricultural water, which is the majority of all water use, but at least having fresh water for houses and restrooms is a start.

  2. Benjamin Harrison replied:

    Yeah, Dan, I am certainly glad not to live in Southern California, but I wish plenty of people would honestly evaluate desalination, because even if you were to use desalination for the percentage used by households, that would make a difference, I am not sure how California is going to supply agricultural water though, which is far more demanding than household plumbing by a longshot.

  3. Artfldgr replied:

    Desalination uses energy… so its a non starter for the luddittes…

    • Benjamin Harrison replied:

      Why not power desalination with solar power? The desert climate makes sunlight practically guaranteed! Not a total solution, but at the same time, I doubt desalination is actually worse than nuclear power, where you generate a continuous stream of radioactive waste!

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