Environmental Groups Appeal the Regional Water Board’s Denial to Reopen Poseidon’s Permit

Poseidon’s permit to discharge waste into the ocean does not meet the State desalination policy

ORANGE COUNTY – June 9, 2016 —Three groups announced today their appeal of the Santa Ana Regional Water Board’s denial to reopen Poseidon Water’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The appeal brings the matter to the attention of the California State Water Resources Control Board and aims to ensure the NPDES permit meets current state law designed to promote sustainable desalination practices and protect the health of California’s coastal waters. 

“Poseidon’s project as currently proposed would perpetuate the use of an antiquated technology banned in California because of its harm to marine life and coastal areas,” says Sean Bothwell, Policy Director for the California Coastkeeper Alliance. “The proposed Huntington Beach plant does not meet the terms of the new statewide policy and, if built as proposed, would pave the way for poorly planned desalination projects in California.”

Poseidon originally obtained its NPDES permit, which will expire in early 2017, before the State Water Board passed the new statewide desalination policy in 2015. That original permit included requirements to reconsider the project if new laws were passed or the facility was materially changed. The new policy, triggering the re-opener provisions, requires ocean desalination facilities to use the best available site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible to minimize the intake and mortality of marine life, as well as new standards for discharging brine to ocean waters.

Following proper protocol, the environmental organizations first brought their re-opener request to the Regional Water Board in February, but on Friday, May 6, the Regional Water Board denied the request in a letter stating that it has chosen an alternate determination process — an undefined process that raises a number of concerns amongst the environmental groups. Now, the groups are appealing the denial to re-open Poseidon’s existing permit to ensure inclusion of public participation as the proposal moves forward.

“Reopening the permit guarantees a detailed analysis of the project by the Regional Water Board and much needed clarity,” says Orange County Coastkeeper Executive Director Garry Brown. “This determination process is not defined, has never been done before and has the capacity to impact Californians throughout the state. Ensuring due diligence and public participation is a must — the people of California deserve it.”

“Poseidon has known for years that they would need to revise its permit before building the plant. Now is the time to hold this proposal to our statewide standards. Setting the proper precedent now will save public and private money wasted on this and similarly flawed proposals in the future,” says Residents for Responsible Desalination Consultant Joe Geever.

For more information, read this story on the impacts of the Poseidon-Huntington Beach desalination plant.

Environmental Groups Include

  • Orange County Coastkeeper
  • California Coastkeeper Alliance
  • Residents for Responsible Desalination 


ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Orange County Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 236 different independent programs across 29 countries. Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit www.coastkeeper.org or call 714-850-1965.