Despite spending millions on a powerful PR machine and high-dollar lobbyists, desalination proponents have not been able to overcome concerns about the costs, energy demands and marine life impacts of proposed projects. Below is a snapshot of news stories and opinion editorials on the topic:

Los Angeles Times

“The trend in water costs over the last couple of decades indicates that the [affordability] problem is bound to get worse. That’s partially because of bad choices. ‘One big-picture solution is not to invest in overly expensive water sources such as desalination, which far outstrips the cost of water recovered via conservation and recycling,’ the Pacific Institute’s Feinstein says. ‘Having to pay for a huge desalination plant that isn’t necessary will really burden low-income residents.’”
–Reporter Michael Hiltzik

“The state hasn’t rushed to build coastal desalters for several reasons: They gobble energy, harm the marine environment and produce some of the most expensive drinking water available.”
–Reporter Bettina Boxall

“It’s going to pollute our water, kill our marine life and cost a fortune, and we don’t need it.”
Ray Hiemstra, Orange County Coastkeeper

“You can surmise a business is running into trouble when they start lining up political firepower. Consider Poseidon Water, which has been trying for nearly 20 years to win approval for a $1-billion desalination plant on the Huntington Beach coastline.”
–Reporter Michael Hiltzik

“The public must become better informed about what is going on with this project. It will affect us all, especially in the pocketbook. We should not allow ourselves to be flim-flammed by special interests that do not represent the best interests of the public. Southern California residents were fooled by Poseidon’s Carlsbad desalination facility. I hope we won’t be fooled again.”
Tim Geddes

“People here have risen to the challenge of our recent drought…Our sanitary district captures fresh water each day and returns that water to the aquifers. This is done at a fraction of the cost and pollution of desalinating ocean water. During the recent rains, we captured more than 4,000 gallons of water in our rain barrels at our home. Think of what could be done if we were to spend that billion dollars on a system that would collect the water that nature gives us and return that water to our aquifers.”
John F. Scott

Sacramento Bee

“Fortunately, we can meet long-term needs without resorting to billion-dollar boondoggles like the proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant… We don’t need their costly water. It’s a bad deal, and we have better alternatives.”
Terry Tamminen, CEO of Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

“While Poseidon has spent millions trying to sell its desalination cash cows, many communities have forged ahead with smart water supply solutions that save money and energy… Hard working ratepayers in Orange County should not have to foot the bill for this billion dollar boondoggle.”
Marcela Gutierrez-Graudins, Azul

“Let’s tackle the cheaper, most cost-effective things first: improving water-use efficiency, expanding water reuse and capturing more storm water. If we do the right things in the right order, we can avoid spending billions on what ultimately could be an expensive white elephant.”
Heather Cooley, Pacific Institute

“Orange County does not need Poseidon’s water. The majority of our water comes from our aquifer, which is constantly replenished with purified recycled water.”
Garry Brown, Orange County Coastkeeper


Orange County Register

“The price tag is the biggest problem. The Carlsbad plant cost $1 billion to build, with about $50 million in yearly operating costs. When treating wastewater or catching more storm runoff can keep supplies at acceptable levels, there’s no need to pay so much for desalination.”
Thomas Elias

“Poseidon’s desalination plant is the most expensive, most energy-intensive, most environmentally harmful option on the market. Orange County has several other water supply technologies available that produce more water per ratepayer-dollar while using less energy and creating more jobs.”
Garry Brown, Orange County Coastkeeper

“The Latino community is sensitive to cost, and a project that will raise water costs in the immediate term is not something that a community who is impacted by price hikes needs. We are quite good at conserving and know how to stretch resources. If we aren’t even maximizing our efforts with water capture and preserving the ground water that we do have, why should we rush to support the expensive Poseidon project?”
Adriana Maestes

“I do feel that Poseidon is getting desperate here and I think they’re hoping this [hiring Barbara Boxer as a paid lobbyist] will add to their argument. They don’t have a demonstrated need and they know it. It’s starting to look like a very expensive boondoggle.”
Susan Jordan, California Coastal Protection Network.


San Jose Mercury News

“We cannot rely on ocean desalination to meaningfully reduce the stress on freshwater ecosystems, particularly the Bay Delta and its tributaries, the heart of California’s water supply.”
Leon Szeptycki and Newsha Ajami, Stanford University’s Water in the West

“There are more affordable and energy-free alternatives to desal, such as conservation, said Frances Spivy-Weber, the water board’s vice chairwoman. Desalination, Spivy-Weber said, should be considered an alternative when other options have been exhausted.”
Reporter Lauren Williams


Voice of San Diego

“Over the last year, the privately owned [Poseidon Carlsbad desalination] plant failed to deliver nearly a fifth of the water the San Diego County Water Authority ordered from it…During the same period, there were 46 days when it delivered no water at all, according to business and regulatory filings by the plant’s owner, Poseidon Water.”
Reporter Ry Rivard

“If the new Poseidon plant does get built, Orange County water officials may end up dumping the desalinated water – some of the most expensive treated water in the world – into the ground to be used later. Paul Cook [general manager of Irvine Ranch Water District] said the current plan for the plant is comical and crazy.”
Reporter Ry Rivard

“San Diego’s overabundance of water during one of California’s worst droughts has reached a new, absurd level. The San Diego County Water Authority has dumped a half billion gallons of costly drinking water into a lake near Chula Vista. Several factors are causing the bizarre outcome, including the restrictive terms of a contract the County Water Authority signed with water desalination company Poseidon Resources.”
Reporter Ry Rivard


Voice of OC

“Members of my community cannot afford the increases in their water bill that would be passed on to ratepayers from costly projects like the Poseidon desalination plant.”
Oscar Rodriguez and Victor Valladares of Oakview ComUNIDAD

“While Poseidon is trying to play off drought fears, the latest Urban Water Management Plan shows that Orange County has all the water it needs for now and the next 25 years.”
Organizer Adriana Maestes

The Hill

“The GWRS Final Expansion* will continue to produce reliable, clean water at the lowest cost per drop for Southern California.”
* GWRS stands for Groundwater Replenishment System, the official name for Orange County’s leading edge recycled water facility, which will soon produce 130 million gallons of fresh, clean water daily, for a fraction of the cost of the proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant.

Denis R. Bilodeau, Orange County Water District and Gregory Sebourn, Orange County Sanitation District


“Irvine Ranch Water District doesn’t need the Poseidon plant… There is a great deal of water we can buy that is a fraction of the cost of Poseidon’s water.”
Peer Swann, Irvine Ranch Water District

“This project is a scam. We will be forced to take that water every year for fifty years, whether we need it or not. And most years, we won’t.”
John Earl, Surf City Voice