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New Report Proves Using Wells for Sub-Surface Intakes Can Produce Water to Run Huntington Beach Desalination Plant

Coastkeeper says well sub-surface intakes are better option than 50 years of coastal and marine life damage 

ORANGE COUNTY – January X, 2016 — Orange County Coastkeeper says the Coastal Commission’s extra study to analyze the feasibility of using wells instead of infiltration galleries for subsurface intakes shows that wells are a viable option.

The report released today by the Independent Coastal Commission Panel states that wells have the capacity to supply the amount of water needed to run the desalination plant. Coastkeeper says the Orange County Water District should consider wells over irreversible damage to coastal waters.

“If Orange County must build this desalination plant that it doesn’t need, then wells shouldn’t be disregarded as acceptable options for building responsibly,” says Garry Brown, executive director of Orange County Coastkeeper. “The way this plant is currently planned is not responsible and puts Orange County’s coastal communities, marine life and economy at risk.”

Desalination plant intakes draw in seawater to send through a process that removes the impurities and salt from the water. Currently, there are two categories of widely used desalination plant intakes: open intakes and subsurface intakes (wells and infiltration galleries).

Surface intakes catch and kill countless amounts of marine life, fish and larvae on a daily basis. The environmental impacts of using a surface ocean intake are significant and well documented. The State Water Board has required power plants to quit using these methods and, according to the new statewide desalination policy, the State Board does not want desalination plants using them either.

By installing subsurface intakes, marine-life mortality is eliminated.

The most recent report acknowledging the minimal impacts of the well subsurface intakes adds to the last report from the Independent Coastal Commission Panel, which stated that infiltration galleries for the Huntington Beach desalination plant were too expensive. Coastkeeper said this was another reason why the location is a bad idea and alternative site studies need to be conducted.

The issues related to the plant’s proposed intake valve options join the following reasons why the Huntington Beach desalination plant is not worth the risk:

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

“As it stands the proposed Poseidon—Huntington Beach facility will damage the three E’s of Orange County: economy, energy and environment,” said Brown.

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


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 or call 714-850-1965.