Huntington Beach on Monday green-lighted a $350-million desalination plant with the capacity to produce 50 million gallons of fresh water a day.
The City Council gave Poseidon Resources final approval to build a seawater desalination plant in the southeast section of town.
Council members approved the project's coastal development permits, an owner participation agreement and a pipeline franchise agreement 5-0-2: Mayor Pro-Tem Jill Hardy and Councilman Gil Coerper were absent. The council had approved the subsequent environmental impact report, 6-1, with Hardy dissenting earlier in the month.
"This is a project that will ultimately be a new source of water for the region, for Huntington Beach," Councilman Don Hansen said. "In the future, I think we will be glad we made this move. It isn't our solution to our water problem, but it is an element of it."
Once the plant is operating, Huntington Beach and surrounding cities will be able to purchase the water, reducing Orange County's reliance on imported water and giving the county a drought-proof water supply, project proponents said.
Environmentalists, however, have opposed the proposal, raising concerns about damage to sea life, as well as potential noise pollution from the construction phase.
The plant at Newland Street and Edison Avenue is estimated to bring in about $106 million over 30 years, officials said.
The project is expected to go before the State Lands Commission as soon as October and is slated to open in 2014.
Although Huntington Beach gave its approval, the fight isn't over, said Merle Moshiri, the president of Residents for Responsible Desalination.
"We will never give up," Moshiri said. "This is our home. We have no choice but protect this, and protect this we will. We will see you in court."