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Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ
Doing Business As Name:University of California-Santa Cruz
PD/PI:
  • Adina Paytan
  • (831) 459-1437
  • apaytan@ucsc.EDU
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Donald C Potts
  • Brent M Haddad
Award Date:08/07/2013
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 550,842
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 550,842
  • FY 2013=$550,842
Start Date:09/01/2013
End Date:12/31/2018
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Coastal SEES (Track 1): Brine Discharge From Desalination Plants - Impacts On Coastal Ecology, Public Perception, and Public Policy
Federal Award ID Number:1325649
DUNS ID:125084723
Parent DUNS ID:071549000
Program:SEES Coastal
Program Officer:
  • Michael Sieracki
  • (703) 292-7585
  • msierack@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:1156 High Street
City:Santa Cruz
State:CA
ZIP:95064-1077
County:Santa Cruz
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:20

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:ucsc
Street:1156 High Street
City:Santa Cruz
State:CA
ZIP:95064-1077
County:Santa Cruz
Country:US
Cong. District:20

Abstract at Time of Award

Desalination of seawater accounts for a worldwide water production of about 70 million cubic meters per day. Despite the many benefits the technology has to offer, there are concerns over potential negative impacts on the environment. A key issue that has not been thoroughly investigated is the impact of effluent discharge on coastal marine ecosystems. This project will provide quantitative scientific assessment of the potential impacts of effluent discharge on coastal ecosystems in California and assess how such data influences public perception and public policy. The team of social and natural scientists has experience related to coastal pollution, California coastal ecology, marine biogeochemistry, toxicology, environmental policy and economics, water policy and management, and utility-stakeholder communications. Established relations with desalination facilities in California will ensure an integrative framework for research on the human and environmental aspects related to the increasing abundance of desalination facilities along the California coast, and contribute to both securing freshwater resources and sustaining productive and healthy coastal communities and coastal environments. The objectives of this project are to (1) determine how effluent discharges from facilities for seawater desalination by reverse osmosis affect key organisms of the California coastal ecosystem with implications for ecosystem structure and function, (2) describe the spatial extent of the effect for different discharge schemes, and (3) evaluate how results from this and similar environmental impact studies influence public perception and decision making regarding desalination plant construction and operation. The project will combine in situ field chemical and biological measurements, controlled laboratory experiments, and assessments of how people and organizations interpret and use this data for making environmentally sound and sustainable decisions. Field studies will be performed at three different desalination plants to identify and quantify the possible effects of stressors associated with effluent discharge on local biota. Observed effects will be validated through controlled laboratory bioassay experiments. The scientific results will be communicated to the general public and decision makers to assess how scientific data is used by different stakeholders. This project is supported under NSF's Coastal SEES (Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability) program.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Heck, N., Paytan, A., Haddad, B., and Potts, DC "Predictors of local support for a seawater desalination plant in a small coastal community" Environmental Science and Policy, v.66, 2016, p.101-111.

Heck, N., Paytan, A., Potts, D.C., Haddad, B., and Lykkebo Peterson, K. "Management preferences and attitudes regarding environmental impacts from seawater desalination: insights from a small coastal community" Ocean and Coastal Management 163: 22-2, v.163, 2018, p..

Heck, N., Petersen, K. L., Potts, D.C., Haddad, B., Petersen, K. L. A. Paytan, "Predictors of coastal stakeholders' knowledge about seawater desalination impacts on marine ecosystems. Elsevier" Science of the Total Environmental 639 Pp. 785-792., v., 2018, p.. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.05.163 

Heck, N., Paytan, A., Potts, D.C., and Haddad, B "Coastal residents? literacy about seawater desalination and its impacts on marine ecosystems in California" Marine Policy, v.68, 2016, p..

Heck, N., Paytan, A., Potts, D.C., Haddad, B., and Lykkebo Peterson, K. "Predictors of ocean literacy in coastal communities adjacent to a marine protected area" Ocean and Coastal Management, v., 2017, p..

Petersen K. L., Heck, N., Reguero B.G., Potts, D., Hovagimian, A., and Paytan A. "Environmental impacts of brine discharge from desalination plants - an in-situ case-study from Carlsbad California," Water, v., 2019, p.. doi:doi:10.3390/w11020208 

Heck, N., Paytan, A., Potts, D.C., Haddad, B., and Lykkebo Peterson, K. "Management priorities for seawater desalination plants in a marine protected area: a multi-criteria analysis" Marine Policy, v., 2017, p..

Heck, N., Paytan, A., Potts, DC, Haddad, B. "Coastal residents? literacy about seawater desalination and its impacts on marine ecosystems in California" Marine Policy, v.68, 2016, p..

Petersen, K.L., A. Paytan, Rahav, E., Levy, O., Silverman, J., Barzel, P., Potts, D., Bar-Zeev, E. "Impact of brine and antiscalants on reef-building corals in the Gulf of Aqaba - Potential effects from desalination plants." Water Research 144, 183-191., v., 2018, p.. doi:10.1016/j.watres.2018.07.009 

Heck, N., A. Paytan, Potts, D.C., Haddad, B., Petersen, K. L. "Management preferences and attitudes regarding environmental impacts from seawater desalination: Insights from a small coastal community." Ocean and Coastal Management 163, Pp 22-29., v., 2018, p.. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2018.05.024 

Heck, N., Lykkebo Peterson, K., Potts, D.C., Haddad, B., and Paytan, A. "Predictors of coastal stakeholders? knowledge about seawater desalination impacts on marine ecosystems," Science of the Total Environment, v.639: 7, 2018, p..

Petersen, K.L., A. Paytan, Rahav, E., Levy, O., Silverman, J., Barzel, P., Potts, D., Bar-Zeev, E. "Impact of brine and antiscalants on reef-building corals in the Gulf of Aqaba - Potential effects from desalination plants1" Water Research, v.144, 2018, p..

Heck, N., A. Paytan, Potts, D. C., Haddad, B., Petersen, K.L. "Management priorities for seawater desalination plants in a marine protected area: A multi-criteria analysis." Marine Policy 86, 64-71., v., 2017, p.. doi:doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2017.09.12 

Nadine Heck, A. Paytan, Donald C. Potts and Brent Haddad. "Predictors of local support for a seawater desalination plant in a small coastal community." Environmental Science & Policy 66, v., 2016, p.. doi:101?111. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016 

Nadine Heck, A. Paytan, Donald Potts and Brent Haddad. "Coastal residents' literacy about seawater desalination and its impacts on marine ecosystems in California." Marine Policy, 68, 178-186,, v., 2016, p.. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsw021 


Project Outcomes Report

Disclaimer

This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination is increasingly used as a technology for addressing shortages of freshwater supply and desalination plants are in operation or being planned world-wide and specifically in California, USA. However, the effects of continuous discharge of high-salinity brine into coastal environments are ill-constrained and in California are an issue of public debate. We collected in situ measurements of water chemistry and biological indicators in coastal waters (up to ~2 km from shore) before and after the newly constructed Carlsbad Desalination Plant (Carlsbad, CA, USA) began operations. We also assessed differences in coastal stakeholder groups' preferences for managing marine impacts of a seawater desalination plant in a small coastal community.

A bottom water salinity anomaly indicates that the spatial footprint of the brine discharge plume extended about 600 m offshore with salinity up to 2.7 units above ambient (33.2). This exceeds the maximum salinity permitted for this location based on the California Ocean Plan (2015 Amendment to Water Quality Control Plan). However, no significant changes in the assessed biological indicators (benthic macrofauna, BOPA-index, brittle-star survival and growth) were observed at the discharge site. Residents placed high importance on the marine ecosystem, including ecosystem features that are less visible and charismatic, and were highly concerned about potential impacts on marine ecosystems and marine activities from the new desalination facility.


Last Modified: 01/26/2019
Modified by: Adina Paytan

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