State leaders support desalination plant

County representatives ask Coastal Commission to approve 'critically needed' Poseidon project in Huntington Beach.

August 02, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio

The state legislators representing Orange County unanimously asked a state water agency to approve Poseidon Water's permit to build a desalination facility in Huntington Beach, according to a statement by Poseidon Water.

The Thursday letter to Coastal Commission Chairwoman Mary Shallenberger stated that "the Huntington Beach Desalination Plant is a critically needed and environmentally responsible solution to the county's water supply needs. We urge your immediate approval."

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) were among those who signed the letter.


Democrats in the county also back Poseidon Water, the Connecticut-based company that recently changed its name from Poseidon Resources, according to company spokesman Brian Lochrie.

"We're extremely excited to get bipartisan support for the project," Lochrie said. "I think it's a big deal and it shows the strong level of support that we have throughout the county for this important water reliability project."

The letter states that though Orange County is using less water than in previous years, it "must import 50% of its water from the Colorado River and the State Water Project in order to meet the demands of our constituents and keep our economy strong."

The letter comes weeks after the Orange County Water District voted 8 to 0, with two members absent, to extend its confidentiality agreement with Poseidon to study the possibility of buying water from the desalination plant, director Cathy Green said.

Green said the confidentiality agreement — which essentially makes Poseidon's private research on the plant available to the water district — isn't new, as the two have had an agreement since April 2010. Directors voted July 24 to extend it to April 7, 2016, and to create an Ocean Desalination Citizens' Advisory Committee to provide input on the desal project, she said.

"We just want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence," Green said.

She added that though their research on feasibility of buying water from Poseidon may be done behind closed doors, all actions on the matter will be made in public.

It was earlier reported in the Daily Pilot sister paper the Huntington Beach Independent that underground pipelines could possibly run through Costa Mesa. Lochrie said it could still be an option should other agencies and cities decide to buy from Poseidon.

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