CA Coastal Commission Votes Unanimously Against Controversial Huntington Beach Desalination Plant Plan

The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to reject a controversial plan to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

Poseidon Water released a statement today in response to the vote to deny a coastal development permit to build the proposed Huntington Beach desalination facility:

This was not the decision we were hoping for today. We thank Gov. Gavin Newsom for his support of this project, rightly pointing out that desalination is an important resource in the toolkit. We believe in the Governor’s vision and his Water Resilience Portfolio, which established the goal of maintaining and diversifying the water supply.

About 300 people came to show their support and opposition to the project in front of the 12 voting members of the committee.

The California-based ‘Stop Poseidon’ coalition, made up of environmental justice, coastal and ocean conservation groups, was also on the ballot, releasing a statement shortly after the decision was made:

Today was a good day. It is a day when the elders of our community truly felt that they were heard and considered in a space where they have not been in the past. Thank you to the California Coastal Commission and its associates for their support in stopping and denying the permit application for the Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach, California,” said Frankie Orona of the Society of Native Nations, environmental liaison for Chief Anthony Morales of the Gabrieleno Tongva tribe of the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians.

In 2017, the California State Lands Commission unanimously approved the $1 billion private project which is planned along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Many residents and environmental groups have been against the Poseidon Water desalination plant for years. Several dozen people protested against the factory in Costa Mesa on Wednesday.

Opponents are concerned about the cost to consumers, the loss of marine life, along with concerns about pollution and the amount of energy required to run the factory.

“This victory for sustainable water would not have been possible without the continued advocacy of Orange County residents and water warriors across the state,” said Garry Brown, founder and president of Orange County Coastkeeper.

Opponents say Poseidon’s desalinated water would be four times the cost of imported water, which would have a major impact on low-income earners.

“So we have a huge amount of water underground, and we use that, and that’s our main water source in northern and central Orange County,” said Ray Hiemstra of the nonprofit environmental group Orange County Coastkeeper. “So that’s why building a factory here, in the north or middle of Orange County, is the worst location you could do.”

Poseidon already has a desalination plant in Carlsbad that produces 10 percent of San Diego County’s water supply.

“Yes, we need water, we don’t need all the tools in the toolkit, we need the tools that make sense,” said Andrea Leon Grossman, director of the Azul Climate Action group. “And the tools that make sense are efficiency, conservation, rainwater harvesting, and water recycling. Those are the ones that make sense, not only for the environment, but also for the wallets of people who are struggling right now.”

Steve Sheldon, president of the Orange County Water District, wanted the project approved.

“Our water supply has not kept up with population growth, we urgently need more water supply projects,” Sheldon said before the vote. “We absolutely need that. We need the Coastal Commission to approve the permit, and then everything comes together, the interest will grow. Once the permit is approved, everything changes.”

Poseidon Water said in a statement that the facility will “use state-of-the-art technology to comply with all local, state and federal environmental laws and regulations, as well as comply with the new regulations of the state’s water board plan. ”

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