For Immediate Release: March 18, 2020

Contact: Rachele Huennekens, rachele@resource-media.org 

Huntington Beach, Calif. –  California’s Region 8 Water Board has canceled a public workshop scheduled for March 13 in response to the threat of coronavirus/COVID-19. The Board is currently considering permits for an environmentally destructive ocean-water desalination plant in Huntington Beach that would unnecessarily force Orange County residents to pay for expensive drinking water. A study by the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) rated the Poseidon project the least cost-effective and most financially risky, of all options to meet Orange County’s water needs. The $1 billion project proposed by Poseidon was last discussed at the Board’s December 6, 2019 meeting and had been scheduled for a final hearing on April 3, 2020. In response to these developments, a coalition of environmental experts and local community advocates issued the following statement:

“The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board must maintain a transparent, thorough and publicly accessible decision-making process about the Poseidon desalination plant. Canceling the recent Board meeting was absolutely the right thing to do, given the need to protect public health and the large turnout at the last public workshop. However, the Board must now clarify its timing and process.

We are asking the Board to clearly delineate a longer review process: allowing adequate time for staff to rework the flawed draft permits to comply with California’s ocean protection requirements, and making accommodations for the public to fully participate in future meetings where the permits will be discussed and voted on. This means holding the Board’s public workshop and final hearing in the evening hours or on weekends, and making virtual-meeting technology easily accessible to the entire community. 

We remain deeply concerned that there is no demonstrated need for the desalinated water and that these permits will allow Poseidon to raise drinking water costs, harm the ocean, kill marine life, and worsen impacts of climate change. It is essential that the California Water Boards — and all state government agencies — maintain open and equitable access to everyone in the community while making important decisions and responding to Coronavirus.”

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