Poseidon Desalination Plant Making a Comeback in Huntington Beach

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Photo by James Bunoan
Possible setting for Poseidon misadventure
Nick Schou way back in 2003 covered the environmental problems with a proposed water desalination plant in Huntington Beach, but Surf City's City Council went ahead and gave Poseidon Resources a tentative approval three years later.

No, saltwater drawn into the ugly smokestacked AES plant along Pacific Coast Highway have yet to churn out 50 million gallons of drinking water daily. The state stopped that because of the process AES uses to flush seawater in and out of its cooling-system pipes.

As the project languishes, environmentalists have warned of ecological damage the desalination plant could bring and Huntington Beach budget watchers have lamented the costs to taxpayers.

Constant critic John Earl of the Surf City Voice recently posted video of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) dismissing the project as unviable.

But Poseidon is back seeking a second city approval, with an inside shot at breaking ground on a plant next year and operations starting in 2014.

Poseidon was originally poised to wait until 2020, when a change in the AES cooling system would have made it easier for the desalination project to clear state hurdles. But recent action by the State Water Resources Control Board could usher the long awaited and debated project in sooner, the Huntington Beach Independent's Michael Miller reports.

"We actually don't have to get new approval at this time," Poseidon spokesman Brian Lochrie tells Miller. ". . . However, to ensure the project's long-term viability, we think it's important that we make those assumptions and get those permits now."

A public hearing to review the proposal has been scheduled for 6 p.m. June 10 at the Huntington Beach Central Library.

The company plans to again go before the City Council later this summer and, if the project is again approved there, Poseidon will roll the dice with the State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission.

Lochrie estimates that, once fully operational, the plant could supply about 8 percent of Orange County's water supply. 
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