But just across the road, another scene, unlike any other in the state's history, is playing out: More than 300 construction workers are digging trenches and assembling a vast network of pipes, tanks and high-tech equipment as three massive yellow cranes labor nearby.

The crews are building what boosters say represents California's best hope for a drought-proof water supply: the largest ocean desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. The $1 billion project will provide 50 million gallons of drinking water a day for San Diego County when it opens in 2016.

Since the 1970s, California has dipped its toe into ocean desalination --talking, planning, debating. But for a variety of reasons -- mainly cost and environmental concerns-- the state has never taken the plunge.

Until now.


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