For more than a decade, officials in Baja California talked about building a large, desalination plant in a beach town near Tijuana. In 2016, state officials finalized a plan only to shelve it four years later, citing its high cost. The energy-intensive technology works by removing impurities from seawater.
Mexico has other, small desalination plants elsewhere in the state and country. Roberto Salmón helped oversee U.S.-Mexico treaties on borders and rivers as Mexico’s representative to the International Boundary and Water Commission between 2009 and 2020.
He said a desalination plant would help Tijuana considerably. “But discussions had been going on ever since I came into the commission,” Salmón said, “and there is no plant yet.”
A single aqueduct that crosses the state, including a rugged 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) mountain pass, brings Colorado River water into Tijuana. “It’s a one-source city,” Salmón said. Officials and companies have similarly talked about using treated recycled wastewater to boost the city’s water supply for years, but the city has little to show for it.