Coastal Commission approves desalination plant in Carlsbad
The $300-million project in San Diego County would produce up to 50 million gallons of fresh water each day. Environmentalists say marine life would be damaged.
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, August 7, 2008
The California Coastal Commission voted Wednesday to approve a controversial $300-million proposal to build a desalination plant at the Encina power plant facility adjacent to the beach in Carlsbad."I think it's time to move forward, to take decisive action, " said commission Chairman Patrick Kruer.
The desalination plant, to be built by the Poseidon Resources Corp. of Stamford, Conn., is designed to produce up to 50 million gallons of fresh water each day, which would be 9% of San Diego County's usage. Promoters would like to begin construction immediately and have targeted 2011 for completion.The proposal was backed by seven local mayors but opposed by several environmental groups and San Diego City Atty. Michael Aguirre. Aguirre, at the commission's meeting in Oceanside, sided with critics who say that the amount of fresh water that would be provided is outweighed by the damage to marine life; he suggested greater use of water reclamation.
The commission tentatively approved the project in November but with 22 conditions involving finding ways to minimize damage to fish and plants and to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the salt-water-to-fresh process. A majority of commissioners agreed, in a series of votes, that the company has satisfied the conditions.
Promoters of the for-profit venture are hoping to provide at least a partial answer to San Diego County's perennial search for water. With scant groundwater resources, nearly all of the region's water is received from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and from a deal that allows the county to buy some of the Imperial Irrigation District's share of the Colorado River. San Diego farmers are already facing a 30% cutback in water supplies as the state struggles with continued drought along the Colorado River and a court decision that has restricted water flows from Northern California through the California Aqueduct.The issue now goes to the state Lands Commission before construction can begin.
Wetland Mitigation for Desalination Plant is Inadequate
from Mark Massara, director of the Sierra Club's Coastal Program
On August 6, 2008, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) is holding critical hearings to decide the fate of Poseidon Resources' proposed Carlsbad Desalination Plant (CDP), which if constructed would be the largest desalination facility in the western hemisphere. Some of its damages are known: Poseidon intends to take over 300 million gallons of ocean water per day, and destroy 11 billion marine organisms per year, including 16 million fish larvae per day, and 1 million garibaldi fish per day, in an attempt to make 50 million gallons of fresh water per day that will be some of the most expensive tap water in the United States. To do it, Poseidon admits it will contribute mightily to global warming by emitting over 100,000 tons of green house gas (GHG) anually.
Next week the California Coastal Commission will vote on Poseidon's inadequate and self- serving 'plan' to mitigate the climate and marine impacts of this facility. Expert analysis has revealed that Poseidon's 'plan' is designed to give them veto power over their climate impacts, and that they seek to dramatically limit the number of acres of wetlands needed to mitigate their massive fish kills. Poseidon seeks to create only 37-acres of wetlands as mitigation when studies show that it will take more than 68-acres to offset environmental damages caused by their plant. In California, wetlands are normally required to be offset at a ratio of 3:1; meaning, Poseidon should have to create approximately 200-acres of new wetlands.