Search: desalination

Drinking Water Costs: Desalination vs. GWRS

by The Editors on November 29, 2009

Garry Brown, executive director of Orange County Coastkeeper compares the difference in water cost between a Ground Water Replenishment System operating in Orange County with the cost of water per acre foot from Poseidon Resources proposed Carlsbadistan desalination plant in an editorial for the Daily Pilot.

The total cost of the highly treated [GWRS] drinking water is less than $800 per acre foot. . . We know that ocean desalination is used throughout the world. The costs per acre foot range between $2,000 and $3,000. There is certainly no reason to believe it can be done for less money in Southern California.

He goes on to point out that the only other desalination plant that Poseidon has built went “$40 million over budget, five years late, and has never produced the promised amount of water. In fact, “Poseidon had to be removed from plant operations and replaced by a public agency.” Oddly, the Tampa Bay plant isn’t even listed on the “our experience” page of Poseidon’s website. The only desal plants they list are the as-yet-unbuilt Carlsbad and Huntington Beach facilities.

All of this makes us ask this question: is Poseidon’s real business making drinking water or simply using the promise of water as a means of extracting money from public agencies?

[Link: Daily Pilot]


Coastal Commission Okays Desalination Plant

by The Editors on November 4, 2009

DescriptionWe keep hearing it referred to as the “last hurdle” and we’re saddened that Poseidon Resources has made it this far, but the California Coastal Commission finally granted a permit that will allow the company to build the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere in our lagoon, according to a Michael Burge story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

With the Coastal Commission permit in hand, Poseidon has met all its regulatory requirements — two years after the Coastal Commission conditionally approved the plant. Poseidon had to satisfy 17 permit requirements before it could begin construction. . . . Peter MacLaggan, Poseidon Resources’ senior vice president, said the coastal permit requires that construction begin in less than two weeks. He said the company next week will start clearing the site, on the grounds of the Encina Power Station on the south shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

Now all Poseidon needs is the money to build the plant. They’ need $530 million in financing, $50 million of it from a bond they’re asking the State of California for, according to a story in the North County Times.

State revenue bonds are tax-exempt, which typically allows them to sell for a lower interest rate than for taxable bonds. This lowers the cost for those repaying the bonds; in this case, the local water agencies the desalination plant will serve.

The company is also asking for a $250 per acre foot subsidy from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (which, according to Food & Water Watch could add up to $14 million a year). Nothing like launching a private business on federal and state subsidies, huh?

For more on some of the reason this plant might not be a good idea, click here for the word from Food & Water Watch.

[Link: San Diego Union-Tribune and North County Times]


Desalination Plant Trudges Ahead

by The Editors on February 13, 2009

Poseidon Resources seems to be moving ahead like the Frankenstein monster over everything that gets in the way of it’s plans for a desalination plant in our lagoon. Most recently the San Diego Regional Water Quality board gave the company two months to “wrap up conditions of its permit” according to as story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The board’s executive director, John Robertus, said developer Poseidon Resources had addressed some of the agency’s concerns before Wednesday’s meeting, and the two sides would resolve a list of outstanding issues by the board’s meeting on April 8. . . . The board gave Poseidon a permit in 2006 to discharge effluent from its plant into the ocean, but required a plan to offset fish and other marine life deaths caused by the desalination process. . . . Under a “Marine Life Mitigation Plan,” Poseidon would restore 55 acres of wetlands as nurseries for marine organisms and plants.

We still don’t like it.

[Link: San Diego Union-Tribune via Watertech Online]

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Surfrider Challenges Desalination Permit

by The Editors on January 27, 2009

The Surfrider Foundation, fresh off defeating the Trestles Toll Road, continues to battle the proposed Poseidon Resources Inc. desalination plant on our Agua Hedionda Lagoon, according to a post on their blog.

The contentious plan to build a massive ocean desalination on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, California has been challenged in court. Surfrider Foundation, as lead plaintiff, claims approval by the Coastal Commission to build the largest ocean desalination facility in the western hemisphere violates California law because it was not designed or located to avoid the unnecessary destruction of marine life.

We fully support and back the Surfrider Foundation in this mission.

[Link: Surfrider Foundation]


Desalination Plant Clears Last Hurdle

by The Editors on August 22, 2008

Today the State Lands Commission voted 3-0 “to approve a lease of state property for a desalination plant in Carlsbad,” according to a story on

Scott Maloni of Poseidon Resources says the company is looking forward to turning seawater into freshwater. “Well we’re done with the permitting process, the five-year process comes to a close. We’ll spend the rest of the year closing construction financing and we expect to break ground the first half of next year.”

Oh, joy. A lagoon full of construction. We can hardly wait.



Poseidon’s Side Of The Desalination Story

by The Editors on April 16, 2008


In the April 16, 2008 edition of the Los Angeles Times, Peter MacLaggan, Senior Vice President of Poseidon Resources Corp., (the company that hopes to put in “the largest and most technologically advanced [desalination plant] in the Western Hemisphere”) in our lagoon has written an Op-ed piece titled From Sea To Tap, as a response to Mindy McIntyre’s Op-Ed of April 10, 2008 titled The SUV of Water.

California’s water supply system is based largely on pumping water from environmentally sensitive watersheds in Northern California and the Colorado River over hundreds of miles to Southern California through an elaborate and costly network of dams, canals and reservoirs. But proven desalination technology now allows us to produce higher-quality water along the coast, where the majority of the state’s population resides, at a comparable cost and without damaging the environmentally sensitive upstream habitats.

No matter what you think about the Carlsbad desalination factory, both of these opinions are good reading.

[Link: LA Times]

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Desalination Plant Not Carbon Neutral

by The Editors on April 9, 2008


The Voice of San Diego’s Rob Davis weighs in with a story on the Poseidon desalination plant and brings up some good points, namely that the plant will not be carbon neutral nor will it reduce San Diego’s dependency on Northern California water.

Poseidon has not agreed to make the plant carbon neutral, a step that would require the company to zero out the emissions generated by its energy use. Peter MacLaggan, a Poseidon senior vice president, said doing so would render the $300 million project financially infeasible. Instead, Poseidon says the plant will be “net carbon neutral.”


“Poseidon’s proposed project does not ensure a decrease in imported water supplies to the San Diego Region,” a commission staff report states. “Poseidon acknowledges that the State Water Project would continue to pump available water to Southern California users, but then argues that it should still be credited for what would then be a non-existent reduction in emissions.”

Just a couple more things that make us wonder why any of this is worth further damage to the lagoon and of shore sea life?

[Link: Voice of San Diego]


Lawsuits Filed Against Desalination Plant

by The Editors on January 15, 2008

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According to a story in the North County Times (are we quoting them too much these days?) the Surfrider Foundation and the Planning and Conservation League filed lawsuits on Monday January 14, 2008 claiming that “The California Coastal Commission acted illegally when it granted a permit to the proposed $300 million plant despite acknowledging that commissioners needed more information.”

Surfrider representatives say the desalination plant would hurt marine life and Agua Hedionda Lagoon, where the plant would be located, and that Poseidon hasn’t proved otherwise. . . . “The substantive issue of whether they can even mitigate (the harm) is still out there,” said Marco Gonzalez, the lawyer representing the environmental groups.

Of course, Poseidon officials are denying this:

Poseidon Vice President Peter MacLaggan said that over the course of eight years of study, the company has proved the plant will not harm the environment. . . . He said the company is simply working out details with the Coastal Commission and that the suit was without merit. . . . “They’re challenging eight years of environmental research and study by pre-eminent scientists in this field from Scripps that has been reviewed by the various permitting agencies, who all came to the same conclusion — move forward,” MacLaggan said.

We’re happy to see someone standing up to industrialization of the Carlsbadistan environment.

[Link: North County TImes and San Diego Union-Tribune]


Coastal Commission Desalination Staff Report

by The Editors on November 9, 2007

Com ReportIt weighs in at 88 pages, but the Costal Commission staff report on the proposed Poseidon Resource desalination plant should be read by everyone who is interested in future of Agua Hedionda Lagoon or ocean life near Warm Waters. The report is very straight forward on why the project is a bad idea:

The proposed project represents a non-allowable use of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, one of 19 coastal estuaries in which permitted uses are limited to very minor incidental public facilities, restorative measures, and nature study. Further, the project would require ongoing dredging of the lagoon, which would adversely affect water quality and habitat. . . .The project would cause significant adverse impacts to marine life and water quality in Agua Hedionda and in nearshore ocean waters. The entrainment caused by the project’s use of an open-water intake within Agua Hedionda would result in a loss of productivity in the lagoon equal to that produced in no less than 37 acres of wetland and open water habitat. The project’s discharge into coastal waters of its waste stream at levels of salinity higher than the natural variability of these waters would cause adverse effects to marine organisms in an area ranging from about eight to over 40 acres of benthic habitat.

The Costal Commission’s November meeting at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel at 1433 Camino Del Rio South begins on November 14, 2007 with the desalination plant discussion scheduled for November 15 (it’s number seven on the agenda).

While the staff report clearly suggests a “No” vote, most political pressure seems to bearing down in the opposite direction. In fact, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institutes auqaman Donald Kent believes the plant will actually be good for the lagoon, according to an editorial in the North County Times.


Surfrider Foundation Says No Desalination

by The Editors on October 16, 2007

While local government and other groups are well behind the proposed Carlsbad Desalination Plant the Surfrider Foundation is still asking people to do all they can to stop it.

This project would be the largest and most damaging ocean desalination facility in the western hemisphere and should not move forward if we want to improve the health of our coastal areas and ocean water quality. Though there is never a good reason to destroy public coastal property, this project is especially threatening because it will cause the destruction of marine life and ecosystems of one of Southern California’s last remaining coastal lagoons, and exacerbate global warming.

They’ve posted a form letter on their website that will allow people to send email to Coastal Commission Chair Patrick Kruer and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi asking that they vote no on the project. If you’re against this project, please click the link to take action.

[Link: Surfrider Foundation]