Staff findings could bring hearing on Poseidon

The California Coastal Commission on Wednesday could hear an appeal of Huntington Beach's approvals of the Poseidon Seawater Desalination Plant project.

The appeal was filed Oct. 5 alleging Huntington Beach's approvals were inconsistent with the city's Local Coastal Program, or LCP. Orange County Coastkeeper, the Surfrider Foundation, Residents for Responsible Desalination, and coastal Commissioners Sara Wan and Ross Mirkarimi filed the appeal, according to the staff report.

The environmental groups said the project is inconsistent with the LCP related to a number of issues, including protection of marine life, water quality, wetlands, environmentally sensitive habitat areas and protection against seismic events and liquefaction.

The commission's staff found the project to have "substantial issues" as approved in all the areas stated in the appeal, expect one. Staff found no problems with the project's compatibility to the LCP's water conservation policy.

Huntington approved a $350-million seawater desalination plant within the AES power plant in the southern section of the city. The plant would take in about 100 million gallons of seawater a day through the power plant's once-through cooling system and turn it into 50 million gallons of fresh water a day for Orange County residents, according to the report.

The plant would discharge the rest of the water to be mixed with the power plant's cooling water discharge before heading 1,500 feet offshore. The returned water would have an estimated 20% higher salinity than regular seawater, according to the report.

Because staff found substantial issues with the items alleged in the appeal, the commission can hold a public hearing on the issue at its 8 a.m. meeting in Santa Monica.

Poseidon Resources, the company behind the desalination plant, must go before the commission to gain one final approval for the project.

—Britney Barnes

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