Top 5 Reasons We Oppose Poseidon Desal In Orange County


In Huntington Beach, Poseidon Water – a private company owned by foreign investors – is proposing a $1.4 billion desalination plant. The plant would require local ratepayers to buy 50 million gallons of water per day, whether they need it or not, at at nearly four times the cost of currently available water supplies. Over the last 15 years, Poseidon has spent over $1.6 million lobbying for the project.

Here are five major problems with Poseidon’s proposal:

# 1 We Don’t Need the Water

The Municipal Water District of Orange County’s most recent Water Reliability Study documented that Orange County has several alternative water supply projects available to meet future needs. The study  also finds that the Poseidon project is the least cost-effective and most financially risky of all of the alternatives reviewed.

According to the Pacific Institute, water conservation and efficiency improvements could reduce water use by a third, similar to those called for in the state’s new water plan.

Orange County can meet its water needs through 2040 without Poseidon. And we have less expensive, more sustainable options for developing new water supplies. Orange County’s state-of-the-art Groundwater Replenishment System produces twice as much water as the proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant for a fraction of the cost.

Check out this December 2020 op-ed by Garry Brown, Orange County Coastkeeper founding director for more information.

# 2 Desal Will Hurt Families and Local Businesses

The Poseidon Huntington Beach Desalination Plant would disproportionately harm low-income residents who can’t afford the water rate increases needed to pay for this excessively expensive project. We have a Human Right to Water and Poseidon’s expensive desalinated water—which costs nearly four times as much as imported water and almost five times more than harvesting stormwater—will only make it harder for low-income ratepayers to afford clean, reliable water. There are cheaper, safer ways to meet our water needs.

Increased water bills put a heavy burden on local businesses, whose annual costs could skyrocket by forcing them to pay for Poseidon’s excessive costs. Many local businesses rely on tourism to make a modest living thanks in part to high-quality, reasonably priced water. Profits could shrink significantly if the desalination plant is built. #FueraPoseidon

# 3 Poseidon Desal Is Poison for the Climate, Ocean Life, and our Clean Water Supplies

Poseidon’s desal contract would subject the region to 50 years of continued fossil fuel emissions, despite the state’s efforts to curb emissions. It takes a massive amount of energy to run a desalination plant. Not only is that energy expensive, but it emits tons of greenhouse gases that contribute to the climate crisis. As wildfires, floods, and heat waves increase their intensity, we can no longer postpone our efforts to reduce emissions. If California is the climate leader we claim to be, we cannot advance this costly, energy-inefficient project. #ClimateLeadersDontDesal

Poseidon would pollute our groundwater supplies with boron and chlorides. This will further increase the costs of water because expensive treatment will be needed to remove additional pollutants from our water supplies.

The project would pull in more than 100 million gallons of sea water each day using obsolete intake pipes that cause significant mortality to ocean life. Regional water board staff estimate that Poseidon would kill 108 million ocean organisms each year. The State Water Resources Control Board ordered the AES powerplant to stop using this same pipe because of the extensive damage it was causing to ocean life. Furthermore, the byproduct of desalination is an intensely salty brine that the plant will discharge into the ocean further disrupting ocean ecosystems.

# 4 Poseidon Isn’t Being Honest

Poseidon said they wouldn’t take public money. But that’s not true. Poseidon has received a $585 million low-interest, forgivable loan from the US EPA, and is seeking a $400 million subsidy from the Metropolitan Water District and $1.1 billion from the state for a CDLAC tax-exempt bond allocation that would take money away from affordable housing.

Poseidon has continually said the plant is carbon neutral because the energy they use would be offset by buying “renewable credits” out of state and even out of the country in a scheme that hurts other communities. Moreover, Poseidon also claims that carbon emissions would be offset by energy savings from not pumping imported water over three mountain ranges from Tracy to southern California. However, Metropolitan Water District has repeatedly said that they will continue to import their full allocation of State Water Project water, regardless of Poseidon’s desalination plant. Furthermore, Poseidon is basing demand on faulty population projections. They said that Orange County would grow by 350,000 people from 2010 to 2020. The reality was that population grew by half their projections.

And they don’t deliver on promises. Poseidon’s Carlsbad plant has failed to deliver a fifth of the water promised to San Diego County Water Authority and racked up more than a dozen water quality violations during its first year of operations alone.

# 5 Desal Is a Bad Deal for Consumers

Poseidon wants Orange County to sign a 50-year ‘take or pay’ contract, committing ratepayers to buy this excessively expensive water whether or not it is needed. This guarantees profits for Poseidon at the expense of Orange County residents and businesses.

That’s why Poseidon has spent millions in lobbying expenses and campaign contributions pushing its costly Huntington Beach proposal.

The $1.4 billion plant would increase water bills for hard-working families to line the pockets of Poseidon and its parent company Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, based in Canada.

Join Us in Opposing Poseidon.