For Immediate Release: August 7, 2020

Contact: Jenny Park, jenny@resource-media.org, 415-867-1166

Huntington Beach, Calif. – Orange County residents, environmental justice advocates, and water experts today praised Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board members for raising key questions about the proposed Poseidon Huntington Beach ocean water desalination project. Over the last two weeks, the Board has held three days of virtual hearings about a proposed wastewater discharge permit for Poseidon Water. The Board requested another hearing on September 17 to discuss outstanding issues including the need for and the cost of desalinated water, environmental impact of fossil fuel use, open ocean intake pipes, and wastewater discharge.

During the hearings, Board Chair William Ruh, Vice Chair William von Blasingame and members Daniel Selmi, Lana Ong Peterson and Dr. Tom Rivera expressed concerns about the desalination proposal’s lack of demonstrated need, impact on water affordability, severe ocean environmental harm and climate impacts, and corporate profit motive—just as a severe economic crisis is pressing working families to stretch every dollar.

Board members specifically questioned Poseidon’s makeshift environmental mitigation plan that fails to fully compensate for the environmental damage the project would cause including the death of 108 million ocean creatures each year. The Board also questioned whether there is a need for the project in light of independent studies by the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) that showed there are cheaper alternatives to meet the area’s modest need for additional water. The MWDOC study showed the Poseidon project is the most expensive and most financially risky of the alternative water projects available to Orange County water districts.

More specifically, the Board questioned the proposal to pay more than twice as much for Poseidon water than water that is currently available from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for less than half that cost.

Organizations opposed to Poseidon’s proposed permit, including the Orange County Coastkeeper, Azul, Oak View ComUNIDAD, California Coastkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club California & Angeles Chapter Water Committees, Residents for Responsible Desalination, and NRDC, applauded the Regional Board’s efforts while reinforcing that the permit should be denied.

Sean Bothwell, Executive Director of California Coastkeeper Alliance, issued the following statement:

“The Board members asked several important questions that exposed the serious flaws in the proposed permit for this massive project. There simply is not a need to pay $2,250 per acre-foot of Poseidon Water when currently available water costs only $1,000 per acre-foot, and conservation is even less expensive.

“The Regional Water Board and the local water districts should say no to Poseidon and pursue less costly and more sustainable water solutions for Orange County.

“Poseidon is one of the most environmentally damaging projects currently proposed along our coast. This project conflicts with the regional water board’s mission to protect the environment.”

# # #