Desalination plant is selling a bill of goods -- and O.C. water users would pay the price

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Ray Hiemstra

Poseidon Resources recently made another move in their attempt to build the environmentally destructive Poseidon Huntington Beach Desalination Plant. If built, this plant will increase energy use and greenhouse gasses, degrade water quality and fish stocks and privatize part of our water supply.  

Since there's no demand for this environmentally and economically harmful way to extract water, Poseidon has not been able to find willing buyers.

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Enter the Orange County Water District (OCWD), which was approached by Poseidon to purchase the desalination plant's full capacity of water. The board also agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement regarding the project's finances. This decision is a desperation move by Poseidon because all but one of the local cities and water suppliers in Orange County have rejected the idea of purchasing its desalinated water. And without customers they have no way to build the project.

Still, in late July, the water district instructed its staff to prepare reports on the feasibility of such a plan in anticipation of a vote by the board. Essentially Poseidon is making an end run around other local water suppliers and cities which have already rejected buying this water by attempting to have the OCWD, which is a groundwater agency, act as the middleman. The district's involvement would force their water purchase on cities and smaller water suppliers.

Amazingly, the OCWD board approved looking into this idea -- even after its staff noted that buying desalinated water would have an economic impact on their operation and raise local rates by at least 7%.

This new move also is a key part of their strategy to gain approval from the Coastal Commission and State Water Board for the desalination plant. If the OCWD agreed to purchase all of the water from the plant, Poseidon can tell state authorities that the full capacity of their project has been spoken for -- greatly enhancing their chance of getting a Coastal Development Permit to build the plant and influencing the State Water Board's Desalination Policy that's currently in the works.

Thousands of you signed on to an Angeles Chapter petition that tells the Coastal Commission to reject the desalination plant. Now we need more signatures on new petitions to be sent to the Orange County Water District and Gov. Jerry Brown.  

Sign our new petition TODAY!


I don't know the details of this particular desalination plant concept, and perhaps it is flawed, BUT the climate forecast for California for the future decades is to become hotter and drier, and the reduced Sierra snowpack and groundwater will no longer be sufficient for our water needs in this area - possibly within as little as 20 years. It is highly likely that the ONLY reliable source of water in the future will be desalinated ocean water. We should be cognizant of this forecast, and not dismiss desalination development out of hand. Hopefully we'll find ways to use renewable energy sources and limit the impact on the environment by the time desalination becomes necessary.

After seeing all the activities at the pier theses days, it makes sense to me that HB would pimp out it water. They will do anything to make a buck and they do not care about their ocean and beach.

Don't approve the plant. It is a bad idea that is only going to benefit one single company. Not the people who use the water, not the county, not any local municipalities. No one wants it there, so they are making a last ditch legal maneuver to get around that fact and force people to pay higher prices for something they don't need.

Worried about water availability? Conservation and education efforts are far cheaper and more effective than desalination in increasing availability and reducing costs - benefits for EVERYONE involved (except of course the company trying to get rich off forcing people to buy pay more for something they already have).

I agree.

A Poseidon ocean desalination plant would an extensive amount of energy, whereas conservation and recycling water such as done at the OC Water District is less energy intensive. And our marine resources are too valuable to lose. In the future, perhaps as the technology improves, ocean desalination may be an option, but there is plenty of groundwater for the OCWD now, and plenty of opportunity for conservation. Look at your neighbors; are they growing drought tolerant plants? Are they using water efficient appliances? If not, we can count on water conservation to supply water for years.

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