The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality and Control Board spent 12 hours looking for a mitigation solution and hearing public comment about the controversial Poseidon desalination plant.
UPDATE: At the continued hearing on April 29, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board voted to approve a permit for Poseidon Water’s controversial proposal for a desalination plant in Huntington Beach after discussing mitigation and discharge requirements. Poseidon still needs Coastal Commission approval for the project.
HUNTINGTON BEACH一 On April 23 the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board met online to hear public comment and come to a solution about the Poseidon desalination plant. The meeting lasted 12 hours and ended with a decision to continue the meeting until April 29.
Board staff recommended that the project should be held until Poseidon could meet all of the mitigation requirements and received approval on their mitigation plans from the government.
The project has been in controversy in recent years, with the board meeting over ten times to discuss the ramifications of the plant.
The plant would produce roughly 50 million gallons of water daily with an average of 56.69 million gallons of primarily reverse osmosis discharge concentrate and filter backwash back into the ocean, according to an April 22 article from the Log.
Opponents of Poseidon argue that the plant is a detriment to lower-income families in Orange County, especially considering a tentative agreement with the Orange County Water District that would obligate the district to buy a majority of their water.
“What’s been alarmingly absent from the Regional Water Board’s deliberations today is the project’s impact on low-income ratepayers,” said Andrea León-Grossmann, climate action director at Azul, in an April 23 statement. “Even as they’re working hard to stretch every dollar, Orange County families are doing their part to conserve water and protect the environment.
Forcing them to pay for water that costs almost four times as much as existing supplies—during an unprecedented economic crisis—so that Poseidon’s investors can walk away with tidy profits is cruel and unjust. If the Regional Water Board is willing to make accommodations for a multi-million-dollar global corporation, they must also consider what this project will do to low-income families in Orange County who need their water bills to stay affordable.”
In the same statement, opponents of the plant showed concern over other environmental factors, and pointed out that Poseidon has yet to make mitigation changes to its plant in Carlsbad that began operation in 2015. The plant provides 7 percent of the water supply for San Diego County, according to their website.
“Poseidon’s desalination plant in Carlsbad started operating in 2015, and almost six years later today, they have yet to begin one iota of mitigation work,” said Susan Jordan, director at California Coastal Protection Network, in an April 23 statement. “The Santa Ana Regional Water Board doesn’t have to make the same mistake in Orange County. If they do approve the project, they must include all legally enforceable mechanisms that guarantee that full and proper mitigation work will be done in a timely manner. Our coasts and oceans are too important to leave in the hands of a private developer who has already received permission to pollute without an obligation to clean up its mess.”
Staff said that part of the reason for the amendment was the delay at the Carlsbad plant.
The Coastal Commission, which is considering Poseidon’s permit, acknowledged at the meeting that part of the delay is a slow approval process, but also said that Poseidon needed to be more cooperative.
Poseidon offered a series of proposals for mitigation including moving up the Bolsa Chica dredging, and setting aside a mitigation fund. Staff were set to return on April 29 with a series of alternatives.