The Truth About the Huntington Beach Desalination Plant

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Reverse osmosis desalination plant" by James Grellier - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Poseidon’s Plan Does NOT Make Sense

The Los Angeles Times got their facts wrong about Poseidon’s desalination plant.  Here is the truth about the Poseidon plan: 

FACT #1Poseidon has addressed very few of the Coastal Commissions concerns. Until all of the following concerns are addressed, the Coastal Commission should not consider the project.

  1. The plant is still proposed to be built on an earthquake fault in a tsunami run up zone
  2. The intake screens Poseidon is proposing to use will not protect marine life
  3. The brine discharge from the plant will still degrade water quality and marine life
  4. There is no proven need for the water
  5. Poseidon has not studied alternative sites for the plant
  6. Poseidon has not studied the impacts of the plant on Marine Protected Areas
  7. Poseidon has not addressed the greenhouse gas footprint

FACT #2: The plant will do nothing to alleviate this or future drought conditions. It would produce so little water in comparison to our overall use that it will have almost no impact on our local water supply. With the water conservation efforts underway we are already saving enough water to equal three desalination plants, and at no cost.

The cost of the water is not cost competitive or stable. The water is priced 20 percent above the cost of our imported water for the life of the project plus potential price increases of 3 percent a year regardless of whether the cost of imported water goes up or not. Also, the price does not factor in the cost of building a distribution system for the water and blending it for use. Adding those costs in makes the water twice as expensive as imported water.

Huntington Beach Pier FACT #3: The $3 per month estimated increase on water bills does not factor in the full cost of producing and delivering the water. With those costs factored in it is $7 a month at the least. The Orange County Water District estimates the full cost of the plant will result in a 32 percent increase in the fees Orange County Water District charges cities and water districts to pump groundwater, adding millions of dollars a year in costs to local water suppliers. Future price increases will escalate these costs.

FACT #4: Poseidon has used political contributions to Orange County Water District board members to insure support for the project. The Orange County Water District board is openly hostile to public comments opposing the project and has distorted the conclusions and recommendations of stakeholder groups in order to move the project forward

FACT #5: The environmental effects of using a surface ocean intake are significant and well documented. The State Water Board is requiring power plants to quit using these methods and does not want desalination plants using them either. Poseidon is trying to use a loophole in the state desalination policy to use this outdated technology for their project.

The state has not made a decision on whether Poseidon can use surface intakes, but it should not be allowed. Once Poseidon builds their plant the state will lose the legal leverage needed to make them stop operation of the plant to retrofit it.

Learn more on how the Poseidon plant in Huntington Beach will impact you.


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