Let’s put Poseidon out of its misery this year: Latest report from the front lines


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Murray at ACC-OC, backed up by Poseidon VP Scott Maloni and enthusiastic OCWD Poseidon supporter (and former Poseidon consultant) Steve Sheldon.

EDITOR:  Note that this piece (by Joe Geever and Dave Hamilton of Residents For Responsible Desalination or R4RD) begins with an account of the latest meeting of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (SARWQCB.)  If that Board sounds familiar, it may be because the kleptocrats are trying to get Kris Murray on to it, as we reported back in December.  But this appointment still needs to be confirmed by a majority of the state senate. 

Kris is the last person we need on a powerful board like that, greasing the wheels for Poseidon and Cadiz and God knows what else.  So we need at least twenty Democratic Senators to vote against Kris’ appointment – if the above concerns are not enough for them to say no to her, maybe partisanship will work – Kris is the Republican challenging the beloved Democrat Loretta Sanchez as we try to transform the OC Board of Supervisors, and needs to be kept down.  Okay??? Well, here’s Joe and Dave:

Poseidon is Missing Some of Its Pieces (Permits)

At the February 8, 2019 meeting of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (SARWQCB, or “Board”, or “Regional Board”), its Staff presented a public information update to the Board on why the Poseidon-Huntington Beach permit application was taking so long to complete.  Apparently, the Board has been getting pressure to speed up the process—pressure from people with influence. (Vern’s emphasis.) We’re going to find out exactly who that is.

Staff explained that the new regulations in the Ocean Plan have never been enforced before, and it takes an enormous amount of effort to process a request like Poseidon’s. We agree—and the delays have been Poseidon’s fault. In fact, Poseidon has been the cause of every delay since the City approved its permits in 2005.

We highlighted that Poseidon is not requesting a permit to operate with sub-surface intakes —t he preferred method in the Ocean Plan to eliminate marine life mortality. Poseidon is asking for a permit to continue using the surface intake. That method is being abandoned by AES Power Plant because it doesn’t meet new requirements to protect marine life. This is an argument that we brought up 20 years ago, but Poseidon refused to address.

At the meeting, Poseidon used a slide showing:

  • In 2006 they got their permits from the City;
  • In 2012 they got their permits from the Regional Board;
  • And, today they are asking for an update to the 2012 permit.

Maloni contemplating more spin.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In typical Poseidon fashion, that timeline is completely misleading, if not an outright lie.

The Board members would never know what we know–but we’re going to tell them!

It’s true that in 2006 Poseidon had an EIR approved, together with all its required permits from the City. It also was granted a lease from the State Lands Commission and its first permit from the Regional Board in 2006. We immediately appealed the City permit to the California Coastal Commission (CCC). We also challenged the EIR in court because it didn’t include an analysis of what would happen when AES quit pumping seawater for plant cooling. As a result, all of the marine life mortality would be caused by Poseidon’s desalination plant. We thought the public and City Council needed to know that—however, we lost in court.

All Poseidon needed to do was answer our appeal and get another permit from the Coastal Commission. But Poseidon would not. For several years we requested to have our appeal heard by the CCC because Poseidon wasn’t responding. We finally quit asking.

Poseidon never responded—it did nothing for over 4 years. In 2010 the City notified Poseidon, and us, that because of its inactivity, the Coastal Development Permit (CDP) had expired. By then the state regulations on cooling water were almost completed—showing that we were right in 2005 despite losing in court.

In 2011, Poseidon had another EIR approved together with City permits allowing it to operate even after AES would quit providing it the seawater it required. We again appealed to the Coastal Commission. This time we pointed out that the State was drafting regulations on seawater intakes for desalination plants, and once again Poseidon and the City refused to acknowledge what was reasonably foreseeable. They did update the permit from the Regional Board in 2012. That permit was granted on condition it would be amended when the new regulations were adopted. Once again, we repeatedly asked for our appeal to be heard, and Poseidon refused to respond to that appeal.

Finally, in 2013 Poseidon submitted an application to the Coastal Commission and responded to our appeal. After staff processed the application, a hearing was held in November 2013. We prepared both responses to their application, and our appeal—which was now effectively 8 years old due to Poseidon’s inaction.

Many of you will remember that hearing in Newport Beach. [HERE is the Orange Juice account of that hearing – V.]  It was clear we would win our appeal and their permit would be denied. So Poseidon withdrew their permit application and requested another postponement of our appeal.

Last year Poseidon applied for the permit from the Regional Board discussed last Friday. Until they submitted that application a year ago, all the delays were the result of Poseidon’s incompetence and refusal to abide by the law. We didn’t cause any delays beyond pointing out flaws in Poseidon’s project to decision-makers. The Regional Board certainly is not causing delays now.

But here’s the kicker: Since Poseidon first came around pitching this seawater desal plant that would operate in conjunction with the AES power plant, much has changed besides the laws on power plants and future desal facilities.

  1. Orange County is using 15% less water now than we were then.
  2. OCWD is producing 100 million gallons a day from the Groundwater Replenishment System, with a 30 million gallon additional expansion already approved.
  3. L.A. County is building a similar wastewater recycling plant in Carson that will send 60 million gallons a day to Orange County.
  4. South Orange County is proposing a desal plant that will use subsurface intakes and will likely sail through the permit process—and we aren’t aware of any opposition to that proposed plant in Dana Point.

We didn’t ever think there was a need for the Poseidon plant beyond the little bit that South County needed. Whatever need there was is surely more than met with our marginal efforts at conservation and the massive development of alternative sources since 2005.

And here’s the second kicker: Poseidon can’t get an exemption from the rule to use subsurface intakes without showing a need for the full 50 million gallons a day.

R4RD and our coalition partners are going to keep fighting and Poseidon will surely keep deceiving. Nonetheless, we hope to put this whole thing to rest this year, and get on with our efforts to conserve resources more wisely, and manage the groundwater basin more effectively to ensure for greater reliability well into the future. Our statement in 2005 is even stronger today: “We don’t want this monstrosity in our City, and there’s no need for it!”

-Joe Geever, R4RD Adviser
-Dave Hamilton, President
-Residents for Responsible Desalination

For more information:
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California Desal Facts


About Admin

"Admin" is just editor Vern Nelson or associate editor Greg Diamond sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.