As we continue to look at ways to address the ongoing drought in California, organizations continue to weigh in on ideas and concerns. The idea of desalination seems logical, given the amount of water available from the Pacific Ocean.
Plans are being proposed for what is being called the Poseidon Desalination plant in Orange County, but environmental groups are expressing strong concern. One group, Orange County Coastkeeper, is concerned over the impact, cost and effectiveness of building a desalination plant in Orange County.
“We don’t want Orange County to repeat the mistakes made in Santa Barbara and Australia,” said Coastkeeper Executive Director Garry Brown, referring to their rush to desalination during serious times of drought that resulted in dormant plants today. “We have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and think more strategically about water supply options that work now and are more cost effective.”
Coastkeeper Position
As it stands the proposed Poseidon—Huntington Beach facility will damage the three E’s of Orange County: economy, energy and environment.
Economy: Poseidon is a $1-billion project that will raise water rates in Orange County, projecting to cost the ratepayer three to 10 times as much as the average Californian for water.
Energy: The Poseidon Desalination facility will use enough energy to power 30,000 homes. This will expose our water supply to energy price spikes, increasing the already high cost of desalinated water.
Environment: As proposed, the Poseidon Huntington Beach facility will use an outdated intake and outfall built in the 1960’s for a power plant, not desalination. This will impact marine life along 100 miles of coast and pollute our ocean at a State Park. The plant will also create 96,740 tons of additional CO2 annually, fueling climate change.
“With California in the midst of the worst drought on record, Poseidon is acting fast to capitalize on Orange County’s coast. This facility will take years to build before Orange County sees any water from it. “Orange County needs solutions now that are sustainable, such as conservation,” adds Garry Brown.
If you would like to hear more from both sides, the Orange County Water District is holding a desalination meeting on May 14, at 5:30 p.m. at their facility in Fountain Valley. The address is 18700 Ward St. Fountain Valley, 92708.

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