CARLSBAD, Calif. — A 10-person crew is in the midst of a three-week shelter-in-place shift at the Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, relieving an initial crew that self-quarantined on site for three weeks to continue producing clean drinking water for county residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting March 19, the first crew of 10 "mission-critical employees" was stationed at the plant to continue operations, working two 12-hour shifts each day and sleeping in RVs in the plant parking lot, according to Poseidon Water, which manages the plant. Food and other supplies were delivered on a daily basis.
The crew was relieved last Thursday and the current crew will remain at the plant until April 30.
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Gilad Cohen, CEO of plant operator IDE Americas Inc., said, "When we initially planned for the first lock-in team, we knew it was very possible that the situation would not be resolved in 21 days. Thanks to the careful planning and staff cooperation, we were able to relieve the first team of shelter in place employees so they can go home to their loved ones, and transition in a new team to assume responsibility for overseeing this critical regional facility."
Plant owners and operators say the plant produces 50 million gallons of drinking water per day, with the work of operating the plant usually performed by a staff of about 40 full-time employees.
Following the 21-day lock-in, the initial crew issued a statement saying, "Each and every one of us here at the Carlsbad Desalination Plant couldn't have been prouder to provide safe and clean water to our community. We volunteered without hesitation at this uncertain time for the greater good of the San Diego area. At the same time that we are away from our family and friends, we are also honored to be helping them and the community by providing a reliable source of water. We also appreciate the outpouring of support we received from the community, from the creative artwork to inspiring letters sent by residents of all ages. We thank you!"
Carlos Riva, Poseidon Water CEO, said: "The health and safety of the employees and the San Diego region is of the utmost importance in this fluid situation. We are incredibly thankful to both teams of mission-critical employees for their willingness to remain onsite, away from their families and loved ones, to ensure the Carlsbad Desalination Plant continues providing San Diego County with 50 million gallons of high-quality drinking water every day."