Coastal Council rejects Poseidon’s bid for OC’s desalination

Late Thursday, May 12, the California Coastal Commission unanimously rejected a permit application from Poseidon Water, the company behind the proposal, a long-standing and controversial effort to convert seawater in central and northern Orange County into for-profit tap water. bid has terminated. .

Proponents of the 50-million-gallon-per-day desalination plant to be built off the coast of Huntington Beach believe it will be a drought-resistant source of drinking water at a time when water is expected to be a scarce resource.

But commissioners who voted against Poseidon said the $1.4 billion project was too dangerous for the ocean, too expensive for water customers and too dangerous for surrounding communities. They also said it was unclear whether central and northern Orange County would need Poseidon’s water — enough for 400,000 people — even if global warming made droughts the norm. Some believe that wastewater recycling and other sources – including other possible desalination projects – will be able to meet future water demand.

Eleven members of the 12-member board voted unanimously at a public hearing at the Costa Mesa Hotel, one of which was recused and ignored Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has supported it for years. Project, recently publicly stated that the state needs Poseidon’s project as a water source because “we need to add more tools to the damn toolkit.” The four seats on the committee are appointed by the governor.

For Poseidon, the ruling effectively ends a 21-year, $100 million effort.

“This is not the decision we were hoping for today,” Poseidon said in a statement immediately after the vote. “We thank Governor Gavin Newsom for his support of this project, rightly pointing out that desalination is an important tool in the toolkit. We believe in the Governor’s vision and his water resilience portfolio, which sets goals for maintaining and diversifying water supplies. “

Company officials recently said the negative vote would be difficult to overcome.

Critics and some commissioners described Poseidon’s bid in less enthusiastic terms, saying the company had not done enough to address concerns about the environment and costs. The company has repeatedly said the project will increase water bills in central and northern counties by $3 to $6 a month, but the company has not provided a recent cost analysis, and Coastal Commission staff said prices “could be higher.”

About 300 members of the public participated in person or remotely to comment on or object to the project. Some union members and others noted that construction would add about 2,000 jobs over five years and create long-term water sources.

“We could pay a few dollars more for water,” said resident Ken Williams, who said he represents the Orange County union. “We can’t afford to let the faucet run dry.”

But many other members of the public questioned the environmental harm of the project and its possible long-term impact on everything from tourism to surfing.

“I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life surfing in toxic salt water,” said Casey Faulkner, a member of the Huntington Beach Surfers Foundation.

Others who have opposed the project for years expressed surprise that water projects with strong backers in Sacramento and elsewhere were rejected during the worst drought in recent history.

“It was never a good idea for Huntington Beach, but black money has kept this project going for over 20 years — all without a client or building permit,” said Ray Himstra of the Orange County Coast Guard Said he was one of several environmental groups opposed to the project. project.

“This victory for sustainable water would not have been possible without the continued advocacy of Orange County residents and water warriors across the state.”

The story is developing.

US News.

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