News Feature | June 12, 2018

Desal Plant Up For Debate In Orange County

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Ratepayers are debating the merits of a proposal for a new desalination plant in Orange County, CA.

“Acknowledging opponents’ concerns, the Orange County Water District board postponed a vote on updated terms for buying water from the desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach by Poseidon Resources,” The Orange County Register reported.

“The non-binding term sheet, which will be considered again July 18, would revise the groundwork for an eventual contract if Poseidon gets the final two regulatory permits needed for construction and the district decides to proceed,” the report said.

Various residents and environmentalists are criticizing the proposal, questioning the need for and cost of the project, the report stated. They have also levied process complaints, arguing they have not had sufficient voice.

“Poseidon’s project has long been disputed by some residents and environmentalists who say the $1-billion plant proposed for Newland Street and Pacific Coast Highway would harm marine animals by trapping them in the plant’s intake system and by discharging briny water after it is separated in the desalination process,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni was unphased by the extension.

“It’s an appropriate action,” he said. “It gives people more opportunity to comment.”

Backers of desalination say it is a way to make California drought-proof after the state suffered serious consequences from its most recent drought. According to water treatment system firm Pure Aqua, benefits of desalination technology include that ocean water is virtually unlimited as a source and that it provides safe water quality.

Backers of the Poseidon project, specifically, cite “the need to diversify water sources,” The Orange County Register reported. Backers “include elected officials, the Orange County Realtors Association, the Building Industry Association and a construction trades union. While officials from some water districts are wary of the extra cost the project could bring to their districts, others [speak] of how the additional water source would help their supplies.”