Desalination Plant

April 2012

The desalination plant was built in 2001 because, due to depletion of natural aquifers, salt water had leaked into the ground "polluting" potable water. The water became undrinkable and people became accustomed to filling up water bottles from water tanks placed throughout the municipality. This was especailly the case in the summer, and in some parts of town throughout the year. Townsfolk were also resigned to appliances, such as washing machines, having shortened lives because of the salt.

But just over a decade ago, all that was relegated to oblivion by the desalination plant which supplies crystal clear, high quality water. Moreover, luck and the peculiarities of the geography of the area have meant that the Jávea plant works almost perfectly and is an example which brings engineers from around the world to come and better understand the system, even from as far away as Chile and Australia.

The desalinated water is extracted from very deep wells at about 300m depth near the mouth of the river Gorgos . This point of extraction enables the sand, which is a natural barrier to the sea, to act as a filter for impurities. So clean is the brackish water entering the plant that it has not been necessary to clean the racks which perform desalination via reverse osmosis, during the entire 11 years of service.

The water is then pumped into the desalination plant, where first passes through through two more filters before being pumped at very high pressure through the racks containing the osmotic filters. This is where the salt is separated from the water.

The clean water then passes to tanks where chemical reagents are added to balance the water and make it suitable to enter the network and fit for for consumption. From these tanks, with capacity for about 18,000 liters in total, water is injected directly into the network through a pump that compensates for the rise and fall of water pressure, thus reducing the number of blowouts.

The brine, diluted first with seawater to reduce salt concentration, is returned to the sea through the Canal de la Fontana. The University of Alicante constantly conducts studies to verify that the flora and fauna do not suffer from this outfall. Surprisingly they found that the seagrass meadows near the mouth of the channel were not damaged, but on the contrary are lush, supporting the most marine life..

Currently the desalination plant operates at 25% capacity in the winter, and they are exploring the possibility of selling water to neighboring towns . The desalinated water is combined with that which comes from Pedreguer wells in varying proportions throughout the year, according to the demand and the availability of water in the aquifer.

Still, the amount of water that the plant injects into the grid is about a 14,000 litres per day , and in summer there are peak loads of about 30,000 litres .

The water produced is not free, and is in fact a major consumer of electricity . So recently Amjasa reached an agreement with Acciona, the company that built and manages the plant, to take advantage of off peak electricity and to switch the plant off during the day. This saves some €900 per day.

From XAD "Xàbia Idea....

A talk on July 4th 2012 raised the possibility of branding and marketing Jávea water.

A blind tasting by attendees tested several brands of bottled water and that produced by the desalination plant. It was very interesting to see how it rivaled the best brands in flavor and how the notion of brand then affects taste perception.

Water from a known brand can cost up to € 327 per thousand liters, which of which € 48 is brand awareness. Water from the desalination plant costs € 1.30 per thousand liters. Imagine how much could be worth if a brand of water produced in Jávea is created and marketed..

José Luis Sánchez Lizaso mentioned an example in a restaurant in Madrid where the most expensive water was nothing more than designer water; deionized water to which had been added minerals and chlorine. As is that of Jávea.

From XAD: La des..

PDF of brochure about desalination plant (English information at the end)

Optimistic assessment of water supplies in the Marina Alta region (1998 data !)

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