State Commission Gives OK To Divisive Huntington Beach Desalination Plant

HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) – After hearing more than four hours of testimony, the State Lands Commission Thursday unanimously approved the controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

The three-member commission, which is chaired by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, decidedto renew an amended lease proposal from Poseidon Water that includes modifying intake and discharge pipelines.

The commission – which met at Huntington Beach City Hall — reviewed a supplemental Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prior to its vote. Meanwhile, demonstrators gathered outside the meeting to protest the impact the plant and pipes could have on the region and local beaches. They argue the desalination process sends brine back into the ocean, harming marine life. Several environmental groups addressed the SLC.

This was only the first of three governmental hurdles. It now must get approval from the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Coastal Commission. Those two agencies are expected to take up the issue in 2018, according to Poseidon Water.

The Huntington Beach Desalination Plant, which would be located across from the AES Huntington Beach Power Station, would provide 50 million gallons of water per day once complete.

According to the Municipal Water District of Orange County, the plant would generate 8 percent of Orange County’s total water supply and is designed to utilize the power plant’s existing ocean pipeline.

“There’s absolutely a need for this water,” Scott Maloni with Poseidon Water told CBS2. “And the absence of the Huntington Beach Desalination Plant, Orange County becomes more dependent on Northern California for water.”

The Poseidon project is slated to cost an estimated $859 million, according to the Orange County Register. If approved by all three agencies, Poseidon hopes to begin construction in 2018. Water would begin flowing in 2022.

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