The San Diego County Water Authority of California has initiated planning for coastal desalination facilities to augment their water supplies. Integration of the different water qualities from these facilities into existing pipelines must be achieved. This investigation determined whether, and to what degree, consumers can discriminate between desalinated seawater and imported water supplies and how these investigations can contribute to decision making regarding the need for construction of facilities to blend such supplies prior to delivery. Based upon the results of the flavour profile analysis panel and the consumer evaluation sessions, it was concluded that free chlorine versus chloramine disinfection or different concentrations of disinfectants did not significantly affect consumer perception of the taste and odour of desalinated seawater or blends with Colorado River water and State project water. Consumers were able to discern between desalinated seawater and imported water, preferring imported water when forced to make a choice. However, the investigators did not believe that the difference in consumer perception was significant enough to warrant special blending facilities to mitigate the relatively minor aesthetic quality differences between imported water supplies and desalinated seawater.

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