Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority said Wednesday they are monitoring the oil spill off Huntington Beach and are prepared to protect the Carlsbad desalination plant.
The two organizations said in a statement that oil from Saturday’s underwater pipeline leak has not affected operations at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which supplies nearly 10% of the county’s drinking water.
Environmentalists say desalination decimates ocean life, costs too much money and energy, and soon will be made obsolete by water recycling. But as Western states face an epic drought, regulators appear ready to approve a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, California.
After spending 22 years and $100 million navigating a thicket of state regulations and environmentalists’ challenges, Poseidon Water is down to one major regulatory hurdle – the California Coastal Commission. The company feels confident enough to talk of breaking ground by the end of next year on the $1.4 billion plant that would produce some 50 million gallons of drinking water daily.
Poseidon Water’s controversial proposal for a desalination plant in Huntington Beach won a key permit Thursday, April 29, when the Santa Ana Regional Water Board cast a split vote approving a compromise less stringent than the environmental terms proposed at board’s April 23 hearing.
Poseidon, which has been working on the project for 22 years, now needs a permit from the state Coastal Commission before it can negotiate a final contract with the Orange County Water District to buy the water. And, in the wake of the regional board’s decision, there’s likely an additional obstacle, as opponents of the project said they plan to appeal.
Every year that it converts a bit of the Pacific Ocean into drinking water, the proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant would kill tiny marine life crucial to the sea’s food web.
Questions of how and when to offset that environmental harm remain unresolved in regulators’ ongoing review of Poseidon Water’s plans to build a $1-billion desalting plant on the Orange County coastline.
Both proponents and opponents of the controversial Poseidon Water desalination plant in Huntington Beach made their voices heard Friday in an all-day virtual meeting that continued well into the night.
In the end, however, a decision by the Santa Ana Regional Water Board on whether to permit Poseidon’s $1.4-billion project will have to wait until at least next week.
Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, with a third meeting on May 13, as necessary.
Recommended terms for a permit to build Poseidon Water’s controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach would make it impossible to get financing for the $1.4 billion project, according to the developer.
Every time someone turns on the tap in San Diego County, out flows the work of Peter MacLaggan.
MacLaggan was the point man in the construction of the Carlsbad desalination plant, a nearly $1 billion public-private partnership that since 2015 has supplied nearly 10 percent of the potable water consumed in the county.
Desalination relies on the virtually unlimited supply of water in the Pacific Ocean. It provides a safe, reliable source of local water in a region that for many years relied on supplies from hundreds of miles away and was subject to mechanical breakdowns, seasonal shortages and the whims of nature.
Hearings have been scheduled to resume in April for Poseidon Water’s controversial proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant. Last April the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region was expected to vote on renewing a permit for the proposed $1 billion project but the workshop was canceled due to COVID-19. A hearing scheduled for September was also delayed so Poseidon could have more time to address water board concerns.