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JAN 20, 2022

Coastkeeper Sees 2022 as a Decisive Year for Both OC Desalination Projects

– Poseidon’s overpriced desalination project in Huntington Beach faces the California Coastal Commission for Coastal Development Permit approval on March 9.

– South Coast Water District’s desalination project in Doheny awaits a permit from the Region 9 water board while they collect public comments.


Orange County Coastkeeper, the region’s leading water watchdog for over 20 years, expects 2022 to be a definitive year for both proposed desalination projects in the county. In Huntington Beach, Poseidon awaits Coastal Development Permit (CDP) approval from California Coastal Commission on March 10. 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. Coastkeeper opposes this project for several reasons, including the lack of proven need, Poseidon desalinated water will cost four times more, and there are multiple negative environmental impacts.

The South Coast Water District manages the other desalination project, slotted for Doheny Beach in Dana Point. Southern Orange County relies on imported water for over 85% of its water supply. In contrast, northern Orange County, where Poseidon wants to develop, utilizes an enormous aquifer, water recycling, and a small amount of imported water for its needs. Coastkeeper supports the South Coast Water District’s responsible and needed project as it complies with the State’s desalination policy and Poseidon does not. The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board is currently accepting public comments through February 3 as it reviews the project’s request for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.


With increased droughts and continual global warming, these two desalination projects have massive implications for California as water is continually a contentious issue. One of south Orange County’s leading imported water sources is the Colorado River, which runs drier and drier every year. The Doheny desalination plant’s projected 2 to 5 million gallons-a-day operation could help ween the region off imported water dependence.

Conversely, the overpriced, polluting, and unsustainable plant proposed by Poseidon would jeopardize small businesses, low-income housing projects, communities of color, and water ratepayers across the county. Poseidon aims to produce 50 million gallons-a-day despite an evident lack of need. North Orange County 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.


“The difference between the Doheny and Huntington projects is that one is desal 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.” — Garry Brown, Orange County Coastkeeper


Two water warriors who have been watching desalination in Orange County for over 20 years.

  • Garry Brown, Executive Director at Orange County Coastkeeper
  • Ray Hiemstra, Associate Director of Programs at Orange County Coastkeeper


ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Orange County Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 241 different independent programs across 40 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.