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In case you didn’t know, there are two Orange-County-based desalination projects currently under review. This year will undoubtedly be a huge year for both in the permitting process.

In Huntington Beach, Poseidon is still hopeful that its 20+ year proposed project will go through. Coastkeeper and several other environmental groups have opposed the project for decades. The overpriced, polluting, and unsustainable plant concept would jeopardize small businesses, low-income housing projects, communities of color, and water ratepayers across the county.

Despite an evident lack of need, they aim to unnecessarily produce 50 million gallons a day. With northern Orange County’s massive aquifer and advanced water recycling methods, the region only imports approximately 23% of its water. If their plan is approved and developed, it will substantially increase water prices for hundreds of thousands of people.

What’s next for Poseidon’s project?

They are currently awaiting Coastal Development Permit approval from the California Coastal Commission. Their permit is on the Commission’s agenda for early 2022 though we do not know the exact day. The hearing was originally slotted for November 2021 and has been delayed multiple times due to Poseidon’s refusal to pay the Commission the appropriate fees.

How can I get involved?

The Commission needs to hear from you! Help us end this expensive, unnecessary project by signing our petition.

You can also click on the resources below to learn more about the project.

Meanwhile, in Doheny Beach…

The South Coast Water District manages the other desalination project, slotted for Doheny Beach in Dana Point. Contrary to northern Orange County, the south relies on imported water for over 85% of its water supply. In case of an emergency water cutoff, south Orange County has only 16 days of water storage. The current estimate for the project’s production would be 2 to 5 million gallons a day, which could help in a water emergency. Because of these reasons, and the project’s compliance with the state’s desalination policy, Coastkeeper supports this development.

What’s next for SCWD’s plant?

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board is set to make a decision on the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit application for the plant.

How can I get involved?

The San Diego Water Board is accepting comments from the public via email at this time. The cutoff to ensure your comment receives a response is February 3 at 5 p.m. The board requests that you email with the subject line “Comment – Tentative Order No. R9-2022-0005.” A public hearing will be held during the board’s meeting on March 9 in Mission Viejo.

Why should I care about desalination?

These projects have massive implications for California water. Global warming and an ever-growing population will cause water accessibility to become increasingly contentious in the coming years. It’s important that when a new water project gets built, it’s the right one.

Put simply, the difference between the Doheny and Huntington projects is that one is desalination done right. South Coast Water District has put in the work and aligned its plant with the California Ocean Plan. All Poseidon cares about is profit without a care towards the marine life, businesses, or people they’re impacting.