By John Earl
As supporters and opponents of the proposed $1 billion (publically subsidized) Huntington Beach ocean desalination plant rev-up for a key hearing before the State Lands Commission, an environmental protection alliance led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has weighed in.
The California Coastkeeper Alliance, part of the Waterkeeper Alliance (an international network of water protection advocates led by Kennedy) which opposes the aggressive push for ocean desalination in California, has joined 21 other environmental organizations in a letter (Final Desal Principles in OPPOSITION of Poseidon-HB) sent to the Commission in opposition to the project.
Kennedy, who Time magazine called “Hero of the Year” for taking the lead in helping to clean up the Hudson River, brings heavy-duty credentials to the long list of environmental organizations opposed to the Poseidon project.
By contrast, only one celebrity environmentalist, former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, has endorsed the project, but she is a Poseidon-paid “consultant.”
The letter, dated July 26 and signed by the 22 environmental protection organizations representing “hundreds of thousands of members,” says that the project would:
- Impose significant and unnecessary costs on Orange County water districts and ratepayers;
- Set back California’s efforts to advance climate-smart water policy;
- Fail to alleviate reliance upon, or impacts to, freshwater ecosystems, including the Bay-Delta; and
- Fail to comply with California law and regulations that govern seawater desalination facilities.
The project developer, Poseidon Resources, seeks approval for its Environmental Impact Report and the ability to continue to lease state land for its project, which would convert 100 million gallons of ocean water into 50 million gallons of drinking water each day.
Poseidon says that the project will protect against drought, is environmentally sensitive, and will cost the taxpayers nothing.
In reality, the project will cost the ratepayers of the Orange County Water District, which would receive the desalinated (purified) water (only to put most of it into the underground river basin to be purified yet again) hundreds of millions of dollars up front for startup costs.
Then, for the next 30 to 50 years, OCWD ratepayers would be required by contract (as now proposed) to buy the Poseidon water at rates 3 to 4 times higher than the imported water that OCWD imports now to help keep up its underground water supply.
The State Lands Commission hearing starts at 8 a.m. this Thursday (Oct 19) in the Huntington Beach City Council chambers.
Below is a complete list of environmental organizations that signed the letter:
California Coastkeeper Alliance
Orange County Coastkeeper
Residents for Responsible Desalination
California Coastal Protection Network
NRDC Natural Resources Defense Council
Heal the Bay
Sierra Club of California
Desal Response Group
Southern California Watershed Alliance
Environmental Water Caucus
Food & Water Watch
OC Earth Stewards
Orange County Environmental Justice
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
Amigos de los Rios
EJCW Water Justice for All