Board delays decision on Orange County desalination project

By on September 20, 2020
Nation’s largest desalination plant opens in San Diego County

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, which was expected to make a decision September 17 on the waste discharge permit renewal for a proposed seawater desalination facility in Orange County, has postponed action for several weeks at the request of the applicant.

Poseidon Waters, the company that plans to build the $1 billion plant on 12 acres of the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station, requested additional time to address concerns raised in three days of public hearings, among them: the need and cost of desalinated water; Orange County Water District’s commitment to purchase the supply; the harm to marine life caused by the facility’s intake process; and whether the Bolsa Chica wetlands Marine Life Mitigation Plan satisfies the state’s Ocean Plan requirements for seawater desalination plants.

During the most recent hearing on August 7, the board concluded that more extensive restoration was needed to offset environmental damage from the construction and operation of the proposed facility and reached consensus on the mitigation project parameters, requiring that at least 75 percent of the mitigation be directed toward restoration rather than preservation (inlet dredging).

Poseidon informed the board that it plans to evaluate the mitigation recommendations, work with resource agency and board staffs, and expects to complete the process within 45-60 days.

A fact sheet and more information on the Huntington Beach desalination project is
available on the State Water Board website.