Surf City Voice on Poseidon’s Co-optation of Labor and Latino Groups.

Poseidon Town 3:

Labor leaders push ocean desal project on workers’ backs.

Trade union leaders’ “Water Is A Right” homage inspires incredulity.

by John Earl, cross-posted from Surf City Voice.

For the past 20 years Poseidon Water has sold its $1.4 billion Huntington Beach ocean desalination project to trade unions as a job creator—it would provide about 3,000 (non concurrent) temporary jobs during construction and 21 permanent jobs after completion, according to Poseidon officials.

Trade union leaders pack Poseidon’s permit hearings with workers who read scripted comments emphasizing job creation, but ignore the project’s high costs and environmental issues.

In contrast, Poseidon’s opponents emphasize cheaper alternatives and violations of environmental justice, referring to the disproportionately high price of desalinated water to be paid by lower income ratepayers, especially people of color.

Poseidon has allowed union leaders like Ernesto Medrano of the Building and Construction Trades Council to show union members that they are providing jobs, but that’s only part of the story.

2019 UCLA study concluded that the only “plausible impact” of the Poseidon project “on disadvantaged households in Orange County will be a decrease in the affordability [of water] due to higher system rates.”

To make up for Poseidon’s poor environmental justice footprint, Poseidon and its allies co-opted environmentalists like Barbara Boxer and created ostensibly environmentally friendly front groups.

The latest example was a video shown at Poseidon’s April 23 discharge-permit hearing before the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. The presenter was a “new coalition of Latino community leaders” with links to the Recall Gavin Newsom campaign, which is ironic because the Governor has always acted as Poseidon’s bully-boy.

The video was presented by Luis Andres Perez, the political director for the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union in Orange County. It blasts Poseidon opponents for denying Latinx people the human right to water and implies that they are racist.

“Water is not a privilege,” declares Zeke Hernandez of LULAC, holding a glass of water. “Water is a right.”

“For generations,” the narrator says, water has allowed California to grow food and boost the state’s economy.

“Now that it’s our turn, we’re being told to shut off the tap,” says one young Latinx man, to which Medrano adds that Latinx are being told “That our jobs are not important enough.”

“[That] our future is not important enough,” says another…


Keep reading on Surf City Voice, and find out how this all ties into Tea-Partying Supervisor Don Wagner & the Newsom Recall, by clicking HERE!

Just SOME of our Previous Coverage of Poseidon:

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.