Mailbag: Pouring water on the Poseidon desalinization project

Detractors and supporters of the Poseidon desalination water facility attend a meeting in 2017.
Detractors and supporters of the Poseidon desalination water facility voice their opinion during the California State Lands Commission meeting at the Huntington Beach City Hall council chambers in October 2017.
(Scott Smeltzer | Staff Photographer)

As former chair of the Huntington Beach Planning Commission, I presided over 40 hours of Poseidon’s hearings. I offer four reasons why the Regional Water Board should reject the project at the meeting Aug. 7, and a suggestion.

1. Hidden Tax. If Poseidon is approved, the citizens of Southern California may pay the largest hidden tax in my lifetime. This hidden tax is the difference consumers will pay, because Poseidon is an international corporation and has profits guaranteed for its 35- to 50-year lifespan. Consumers will pay up to six times more for their water! Plus there is an annual 3% price escalator clause! These estimates are the best we can do as Poseidon’s term sheet does not include actual prices! Would you buy a house if the seller could decide upon the price after the contract was signed?

2. Desalinization wins the most expensive water prize. Current groundwater costs $450/acre foot, while ratepayers of Poseidon’s Carlsbad plant pay $2,800/acre foot. Poseidon’s water is already 6.2 times more expensive than O.C. groundwater.

3. We don’t need Poseidon. In 2018 the O.C. Water District report shows O.C. in a uniquely favorable situation when compared to the Carlsbad area: a) Orange County is on top of an aquifer; b) O.C. has the Santa Ana River, another source of fresh water; c) 12 years ago, Orange County began to reclaim waste water and replenishes the aquifer daily; and d) over the last 20 years conservation has helped to shrink demand.

4. Ratepayers may be forced to buy unneeded water (and then pump it into the ground). Poseidon wants to produce more water than the region needs and force us to purchase their expensive water and dump it into the aquifer. This is precisely what the groundwater replenishment system has been doing for 12 years (and at much cheaper rates).

When we want a desalination plant, we should construct one that is cheaper to build and operate. So what is the “secret sauce” that lowers construction and operating costs?

It’s a municipal utility (just like the O.C. Water and Sanitation districts). cheaper to build, because it would be right sized for the region’s needs, not for Poseidon’s profits. A utility is cheaper to operate because it won’t need to raise rates to generate profits for directors and shareholders.

The people of Orange County should be outraged at the prospect of this hidden and completely unnecessary tax.

Randy Kokal
Huntington Beach

Climate change bill is promising

I’ve done a little investigation on Curt Abdough’s commentary in the Daily Pilot, “Climate change bill would prevent catastrophe worse than the pandemic.”

The science-based facts bear him out. A recent study into the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, conducted by Columbia University economists, concluded that carbon emissions in the atmosphere would be reduced by nearly 40% in 12 years.

Digging a little further, I found that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s most recognized body of scientists working on climate change, last year warned that humankind may have only another decade to drastically reduce carbon emissions if we hope to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, meaning the threatened collapse of a livable biosphere.

That puts my grandchildren and everyone else’s grandchildren in unacceptable peril. The writer of this commentary has made a strong case for this bill. All five Orange County members of Congress are co-sponsoring this measure.

Let’s waste no more time. Ocean reefs are acidifying, sea levels are rising, hurricanes and droughts are getting more severe, wildfires are claiming more lives and homes, carbon-polluted air is filling more lungs.

Readers should urge public officials at all levels to support this bill before time runs out on us all.

Tom Osborne
Laguna Beach


I was very encouraged to read Curt Abdouch’s commentary in the Daily Pilot regarding the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

I was particularly encouraged because HR763 seeks and expects support from Democrats and Republicans alike. We need to have actions that show Congress can work together for the good of America.

Creating over 2 million jobs that will bring about a clean-energy economy is a very positive step. The aspect of putting money into people’s pockets at a time of high unemployment and beyond will be very advantageous, particularly for low- and middle-income Americans.

I hope others will join me in writing to our members of Congress. Their bipartisan support of HR763 will help get our planet moving in the right direction.

Anne Caenn
Laguna Beach

COVID-19 can be a death sentence

I suppose I’ve long been under a mistaken impression. I assumed courts were in place to ensure justice.

How is exposing inmates to a potentially fatal virus (some of whom may be incarcerated while awaiting trial) and jail personnel (who work to make a living) possibly be considered justice?

To ensure justice, we must not inflict what could amount to a death penalty on people who have not been convicted of a crime or who face misdemeanor charges. Nor should we endanger jailers by mandating they serve without appropriate safeguards.

I don’t know the solution but I recognize injustice that is as obvious as this.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

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