HUNTINGTON BEACH— Poseidon Water has sought a permit renewal from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region to build a $1 billion desalination plant on Pacific Coast Highway at the former AES power plant in Huntington Beach. Several workshops have been held and the permit was expected to be voted on in April 2020 but delays related to COVID-19 and water board concerns have left the issue undecided.
On Feb. 12, the Santa Ana Water Board released a revised tentative order for waste discharge requirements on its website for public comment. Revisions included additional restoration at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and the creation of an artificial reef along the Palos Verdes Peninsula to satisfy the remaining mitigation requirements; inclusion of a finding regarding human rights to water; a revised deadline from three years of the effective date of the order to 18 months for Poseidon to submit the Climate Change Action Plan; among others. Poseidon also submitted a proposed alternative to the discharge and intake prohibitions for the board to consider at the continued hearing.
A hearing to consider adoption of just these new revisions is now scheduled for April 23 at 9 a.m. and April 29, if needed. The Santa Ana Water Board will hear public comments on proposed revisions that have been made to Tentative Order R8-2021-0011 since the order was last released for public review on June 30, 2020, and continue their deliberation. Oral comments will be limited to the scope of the new revisions.
A permit renewal from the water board is the first regulatory hurdle Poseidon needs to clear in order to move ahead with plans. The plant would produce 50 million gallons of potable water daily and would discharge an average of 56.69 million gallons monthly of primarily of reverse osmosis concentrate and filter backwash into the Pacific Ocean.