After a nearly 10-hour hearing, the California Coastal Commission unanimously rejected plans for a Poseidon Water desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Hundreds of people showed up to the hearing. Gov. Gavin Newsom had supported the plant.
“Some of the critiques [are] that there’s never been a buyer identified for the water that this desalination plant would give, that there’s never been a price about how much the water would cost, and also that … if this Poseidon plant was built, there'd have to be hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies from the Metropolitan Water District to do this,” says Gustavo Arellano, LA Times columnist. “And the biggest thing for Huntington Beach and a lot of people in Orange County — just environmental concerns.”
He notes that the California Coastal Commission’s job is to take care of the coast, not give the state water. “They're saying that this plant in this place will ruin the coast. And our job is to take care of the coast. So no.”
Poseidon Water already runs a plant in Carlsbad, California, which the commission took issues with. Arellano says water costs rose for people who relied on the Carlsbad plant, but environmental degradation is the big issue.
He also points out that many people don’t know how desalination works. “You take the [salt] water out from the ocean. … Then you turn [it] into freshwater. But there's a whole bunch of stuff that you have to throw back in. And so that water that goes back into the ocean, it's very processed and … it kills a lot of plankton. … Sucking in all that water is also going to take in fish and other animals. So this is why environmentalists, or especially animal lovers, have always been against desalination. … The way it's done right now is just too ruinous to wildlife.”