Desalination works by separating water molecules from salty seawater through reverse osmosis. The left over high-salinity brine is sent back to the ocean.
One plant of this scale — the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County — is already in service. Poseidon began operating that facility in late 2015, selling its entire output to the San Diego County Water Authority in a 30-year contract.
If Poseidon doesn’t get permit approval this time, the Huntington Beach project will be dead in the water.
“We have complied with every requirement in the coastal development act, and we are bringing a new climate resilient, high-quality water supply to very thirsty California,” Jessica Jones, Poseidon’s director of communications, ha detto alla CNN. “This decision on Thursday is going to send a strong, strong message to the administration and to anyone looking to develop a seawater desalination plant in California or bring in any new water supply.”
Scientists reported earlier this year that the West’s current megadrought is the worst in at least
1,200 anni. Southern Californians are already seeing unprecedented water restrictions ahead of the summer
Gov. Gavin Newsom has voiced support for building the plant, noting California’s extended droughts and challenged water supply. He recently told the Bay Area News Group editorial board, “What more evidence do you need that you need to have more tools in the tool kit than what we’ve experienced? Seven out of the last 10 years have been severe drought.”
But those against the desalination plant argue there are other ways to battle the drought.
On its website dedicated to fighting the Huntington Beach plant, the non-profit Surfrider Foundation indicates the water the project would provide is not needed, calling the potential plant “a waste of money.”
Infatti, research by the Pacific Institute, a water-focused think tank, found California could substantially reduce its urban water use by 30 per 48% with existing and cutting-edge technologies. In its recent report, the institute argued “water efficiency opportunities can be found across the state but are highest in the South Coast hydrologic region.” It pointed to solutions that cost very little compared to desalination, including increased wastewater recycling and stormwater capture — with about two-thirds of the region’s potential water savings coming from the residential sector.
“Seawater desalination is among the most expensive water supply options,” Heather Cooley, Pacific Institute’s director of research, ha detto alla CNN. “From a cost perspective, from an environmental one, from an energy perspective, doing these other alternatives first makes the most sense for California.”
Yet as most of the western United States is experiencing unprecedented drought conditions, Poseidon’s Jones argues the Huntington Beach Desalination Plant will create more supply across the region by taking stress off the already thin-stretched Colorado River Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountains water sources.
“By creating a new local water supply on the coast, it’s not just going to benefit residents of Orange County, but it’s alleviating the pressure on the imported water supply,” Jones ha detto. “We need to look at the larger picture here, not just for California, but for all the states in the West.”