OC Ocean Desalination’s Swan Song? by John Earl


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By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Water Boarding: Has Ocean Desalination’s Swan Song Been Sung in Orange County?

Mobile testing facility for Dana Point desalination plant.

An Irvine water official recently let members of the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) board know that their public relations efforts on behalf of ocean desalination aren’t necessarily welcomed in his agency’s jurisdiction, which stretches across the county’s mid-section as its largest water district.

MWDOC is the retailer for 28 water agencies throughout the county.

Open dissent by local water officials toward ocean desalination projects is rarely if ever heard at MWDOC meetings, where the belief that such projects, however costly, are a vital part of a larger water portfolio is all but officially treated as sacrosanct.

The official, Peer Swan, one of five directors for the Irvine Ranch Water District, spoke out at a monthly meeting of MWDOC’s Public Affairs and Legislation Committee held on Monday, Dec. 19. He told the board that the agencies that don’t agree with the premise of the PR campaign should be able to opt out.

“I would expect that you would respect your customer’s request not to go in and do a PR campaign on something they don’t support,” Swan said.

MWDOC’s directors were discussing plans to increase their efforts to educate county residents about the supposed needs for ocean desalination in Orange County.

MWDOC wants to convince county residents that desalinated ocean water will guarantee them an endless and reliable supply of drinking water during future water shortages to be caused – inevitably – by droughts or by earthquakes that will break water supply lines; or worse, cause the collapse of the California Delta, which supplies about half of Orange County’s water.

MWDOC is pushing two major ocean desalination projects in Orange County. One of them would be in…

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About Surf City Voice

John Earl is the editor of the Surf City Voice. Frequent contributor Debbie Cook, a former Huntington Beach Mayor, is board president of the Post Carbon Institute.