On Thursday, the Coastal Commission voted in concurrence with the staff recommendation to deny the Brookfield-Poseidon Huntington Beach desalination plant. Poseidon proposed to construct and operate a seawater desalination plant using open ocean seawater intake pipe to produce 50 million gallons per day of potable water - what would be one of the largest in the nation. The proposed location was the site of existing power plant and within the Huntington Beach wetlands complex. Project opponents argued that it was not needed in Orange County and would only make the water rich, richer and significantly drive up water rates, posing a serious environmental justice concern. The staff report recommended denial based on potential environmental justice concerns as well as enormous and unjustifiable energy use. The plant would have also had devastating impacts to marine life, which the staff report points out were unable to be mitigated due to practical considerations over the scale of wetland creation that would be necessary. Commissioners unanimously denied the project.
Why You Should Care
Just as we must move forward with clean energy development thoughtfully and with careful consideration to avoid the mistakes of the past and ensure a sustainable, equitable and healthy future, we must also move forward with intentionality with our water supply projects. We can learn from the mistakes of the past by avoiding short term, impactful solutions and instead developing local, sustainable water supplies such as water recycling, or desalination where there is an actual need, and the facility is sited and designed to minimize impacts.
Negative Conservation Vote
The Commission sent a clear message that future proposals for desalination must carefully consider impacts to environmental justice communities, marine life and energy consumption. California has made great strides in updating laws and policies to move towards a sustainable and equitable economy and society. By denying this project, those were affirmatively upheld.
Stop Poseidon Coalition - californiadesalfacts.org
CDP and Appeal