Commentary: Poseidon would bring jobs and water to Orange County

The Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant was built by Poseidon Water.
The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant was built by Poseidon Water. A similar proposed desalination in Huntington Beach would help resolve the water shortage in California, writes the executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation.
(Courtesy of Poseidon)

We’ve seen this story before: What do you do when someone doesn’t have science on their side? You make up a conspiracy story. And better yet, you try to piggyback on a politically charged conspiracy theory with no ties to reality.

And that’s exactly what Gary Brown attempts to do in his opinion piece regarding the Poseidon project, “Governor’s talk on environment falls short when it comes to the Poseidon project,” Dec. 3.
He claims that desalination is somehow tied to a bigger conspiracy involving Gov. Gavin Newsom and shady backroom politics. Well, hang on to your tinfoil hat. There’s no government conspiracy here — it’s actual science.

There’s no question California is about to face a severe water crisis. The snowpack we’ve relied on for generations is no longer a reliable means of water storage for our state. We’ve got more than 40 million people who rely on clean water to drink, and we will soon be unable to provide it. That’s fact, not fiction, and backed by reputable science.

And this fact isn’t new. That’s why Gov. Jerry Brown, who was rightfully concerned with the depletion of California’s natural water storage and its effect on the continued provision of water for the state, signed AB 685 into law back in 2012. AB 685 declared water to be a human right in California and called on all state agencies to revise, adopt or establish policies and regulations that “further the provision of clean, affordable and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.”

Since 2012 we haven’t moved the state’s water policy too far forward. We now have a desalination plant successfully online in San Diego County, constructed by Poseidon Water of Boston, and have instituted water-saving methods throughout the state. However, we are still facing a crisis with the ever-evaporating snowpack, a continuously warming climate and the reframing of the Delta tunnel project. And this might make for a good long political debate, but the reality of the situation is that most Californians do not have the luxury of time for a political debate — they have real-world needs, including the need to be able to provide water for their children to drink.

And while we are talking about facts versus luxuries, let’s talk about what’s happening today in California. We are walking further and further into a pandemic-induced recession. There isn’t a working family today who isn’t struggling with unemployment, with childcare, with illness, with anxiety — take your pick. .

Our state is not going to have the resources to solve the water crisis, the housing crisis, the health crisis or the unemployment crisis without private investment. We need to be open to private investment in our state and in our communities because that will be a big part of what rights the ship of state.

As with everything, every big idea, there are people who will always look for the problems, and right now in California, we have a lot of problems. Desalination is an answer to one of those problems. Mr. Brown might want to look for the problems, with desalination, with leadership, with the Poseidon project, but I chose to look through the other end of the telescope. I see desalination as part of the answer to a real-life crisis that working Californians are facing. I see Poseidon as representing a project that wants to invest a whole lot into our community. And, I see the governor as a leader who is desperately trying to keep Californians safe during an unprecedented hard time.

Remember, we are all in this together.

The writer, a resident of Santa Ana, is executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation representing 250,000 Californians who live and work across Orange County.