Transformation complete: OC Water District now “Poseidon Water District of OC.”




Brandman, Green, Maloni and Sheldon.


The Orange County Water District is supposed to represent best the interests of its 2.4 million ratepayers, not become an extension of developers who want to take a profit from the public trough.

But over the years, the OCWD Board of Directors majority has consistently and relentlessly pushed the proposed publicly subsidized $1 billion ocean desalination plant for Huntington Beach proposed by Poseidon Water, a subsidiary of Brookfield Assets, a huge multinational corporation. They have done so through biased public hearings, biased studies that were specifically precluded from considering alternatives and whether a real need for the project exists or not, and through illegal secret meetings held with Poseidon representatives calling the shots (as revealed in articles I wrote for the Surf City Voice).*

The Poseidon project would produce 56,000 AF of water a year and replace an equal amount of cheaper water the OCWD currently imports to refill the Santa Ana River groundwater basin to safe levels after (often excessive) depletion caused by groundwater production by its 19 agencies or “producers.” But the price of Poseidon’s water would be 3 to 4 times greater than the imported water, which would be freed up for use by other districts outside of OCWD jurisdiction—those districts will be subsidized by OCWD at the rate of the price difference.

The following video was taken on Dec. 6, 2019 at a public workshop held in Huntington Beach by the Santa Ana State Regional Water Quality Control Board which will vote in April on whether to issue needed permits for the project:

A quorum of 8 out of 10 OCWD board members attended the meeting and several of them stood with Poseidon during its 20 minutes of time allotted by the Regional Board to make its case for the project. OCWD president and vice-president Vincent Sarmiento and Cathy Green (respectively) spoke of the supposed benefits of the Poseidon project, often with dishonest and misleading claims, as if the passage of a contract between the company and OCWD was a done deal, pending approval of state permits.

The collection of OCWD board members at the Regional Board meeting, acting no less as an official arm of Poseidon Resources during the company’s allotted time, raises ethical and legal questions about impartiality and Brown Act violations, such as holding in effect its own public meeting (within the Regional Board’s meeting) without notice, public comments, etc.

Watch as Scott Maloni, Poseidon’s VP for marketing, kicks project-opponent/OCWD board director Kelly Rowe off the podium platform, stating (as reported to me), “You’re not going to speak on my time” and then brings paid Poseidon lobbyist Barbara Boxer to the podium.

Could it be any clearer who the OCWD BOD really represents?

It seems that from now on it would be more appropriate to refer to the Orange County Water District as the Poseidon Water District of Orange County.

*The Surf City Voice, at, was recently hacked and its contents destroyed. While the site is under restoration, all past articles about Poseidon can still be read on the wayback machine at Type in the search box and click on anywhere along the timeline that pops up. From the left column, you can click on the links to monthly archives and read the articles. 

About Surf City Voice

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