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> Sorek can produce a thousand liters of drinking water for 58 cents.

In Los Angeles, the DWP tier 1 retail price for a cubic foot is very, very roughly 5 cents or roughly $1.75 for 1000 liters. And DWP's prices are going up (for a host of reasons).

Doesn't the DWP price include procurement, treatment, delivery to a house and sewage treatment, whereas the Sorek price is only procurement.

To compare them, it would have to be the price someone pays to obtain a kilolitre of untreated water at source.

California seems to have some water transfers, and I found a report listing prices from $50-$550/acre-foot, or ~1.25 million L (2012 [1])

That would give an upper bound of (550/1250) $0.44/kilolitre at source.

[1] http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_1112EHR.pdf

I do not think the sewage treatment is included in that price. But the rest is, as you say.

You are correct, in LA, it's broken out into a separate line item.

From the DWP FAQ:

"The Sewer Service Charge (SSC) is based on metered water use"


This is potable water? Because even $2 sounds insanely good compared to bottled water prices. I know I'm missing a host of things, but it strikes me as not a terrible price...?

It's apples and oranges. Bottled water is orders of magnitude more expensive to ship than tapwater, which just flows through pipes using gravity (plus some occasional pumping). You could water your lawn with thousands of liters of water pretty easily throughout the course of a day, but you aren't going to empty thousands of individual bottles of water onto it in a day. The two are used in such different scales as to not be meaningfully comparable.

Sure. I understand this, but is there a context in which desal water is ONLY used for drinking water, not for lawns and toilets and whatnot? At that point it maybe becomes a different story? I realize that requires parallel infrastructure possibly (to deliver to the home) but I would think drinking water would be the first use.

Pipes are simultaneously expensive and efficient, to the point where it makes sense to distribute only potable water. It would cost way more to add the infrastructure to pipe gray water everywhere than it does to just use freshwater for household irrigation purposes.

Bottled water is so incredibly expensive that it really doesn't matter where the water in it comes from -- the production cost of the water in the bottle itself is insignificant compared to the retail price of that bottle.

Besides, it's not like you can water lawns with seawater. When you're at the point where you're having to rely on desalinated water to drink, you're going to need to use it on your lawn as well (if you want to have a lawn).

There's no point in comparing retail to wholesale, though.

When the retail price is large enough, it's worth showing that you could add this new wholesale price on top without greatly affecting it.

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