Mailbag: Raising objections to the Poseidon desalination project

Poseidon plans to build a desalination plant next to the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station.
Poseidon Water plans to build a seawater desalination plant next to the AES Huntington Beach Generating Station.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

As the leading environmental organization focused on the whole of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, including both the wetlands and the uplands, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust has publicly opposed the proposed Poseidon Huntington Beach Desalination Facility for several years based solely on the projected damage to the marine environment that it will cause when operational. The Poseidon plant is expected to create a 421.4-acre dead zone offshore in our coastal waters, and the wetlands ecosystem is directly linked to these ocean waters. But now that Bolsa Chica has been discussed in conjunction with this project, it seemed important to lend our voice to this discussion.

Because the Santa Ana Regional Water Board is considering environmental mitigation as a condition of issuing its permits to move Poseidon’s project forward, the Bolsa Chica wetlands have been targeted as a possible site for such mitigation efforts. Such conditions are common, requiring environmental repair at one location to offset environmental damage done from development at another. In fact, the wetlands restoration completed in 2006 at Bolsa Chica was a mitigation project for the expansion of the port in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, that restoration project could not be fully implemented at the time, and the Bolsa Chica wetlands now needs additional restoration efforts to remain environmentally healthy. While the Bolsa Chica Land Trust remains steadfast in its opposition to the construction and operation of the Poseidon plant overall, we lend our voice to those of the California Coastal Protection Network, Orange County Coastkeeper and other environmental organizations to demand that the regional water board require Poseidon to permit all of their environmental mitigation projects prior to beginning operations should they decide to allow this project to go forward. Recent history at the plant they built in Carlsbad should be sufficient to justify such a requirement, “infeasible” or not.

Jeff Rokos
Huntington Beach

Poseidon has been in the local news for over 20 years, and I continue to be amazed at the efforts to justify this billion-dollar boondoggle. There are many flaws and problems with the desalination plant project including the most obvious ones like the fact that it isn’t needed here, that it will produce water that is three or four times the cost of our reliable sources now, that it will be environmental damaging, that it is enormously energy intensive and expensive to maintain, and that Orange County Water District ratepayers will be on the hook for millions of dollars in water transmission costs (e.g. pipelines). The negative impacts are off the charts. And yet, prominent politicos tout the project because it caters to their special interests and pet projects. This is crazy! There is no way to sugarcoat this bad project, especially when Poseidon has shown itself to be remarkably untrustworthy in following through on its promises. The public is being soaked and Poseidon backers are all wet.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

In a sham hearing on April 23, Poseidon demonstrated its control over the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board with delaying tactics to not begin to hear from the public until after 5 p.m. and cutting back on the time of 283 speakers from two minutes to one minute each, beginning with the speakers in favor of the project. Thus those in opposition were not called on until very late in the evening. My number was not called until 8:45 p.m. The decision on Poseidon’s request for approval was continued for one week thereby avoiding confronting the opposition. They plan not to hear from the public at that hearing.

Orange County Coast Keepers sent the board a letter on March 10, regarding the issue of an Ex Parte Communication which occurred on Aug. 5, 2020 by Gov. Newsom’s secretary without public notice which required notification to the public within seven days, but instead the communication was not revealed until six months later on Feb. 11, 2021.

The board ignored and did not respond to the letter, which called for the members involved to be disqualified from further involvement in the proceedings. Poseidon and the water board will ram this project down the throat of the public unless there is an outcry about the environmental disaster that will take place.

Richard C. Armendariz
Huntington Beach

I am writing on behalf of myself, my family, my neighbors and friends in H.B. who could not be in attendance to the water board meeting due to work day schedules. We feel strongly that Poseidon’s dated and dangerous plan is no good for our community, no good for our beach, our ocean and the marine life living off our shores.

Year after year we have been fighting this, and year after year there are still big questions and concerns — all of which are reasonable and need to be answered before something of this magnitude can safely proceed.

Some of us might take Huntington Beach for granted, but we must remember that for us (why we stay) and anyone visiting (why they come) what makes Huntington Beach “Huntington Beach” is the beach. It is our stretch of coastline and ocean that makes Huntington Beach what it is. We must protect it.

This is probably the biggest and most consequential decision you will make in your lifetime on this board. Your names will be tied to this decision as either the ones who stood up to protect our Surf City, our ocean, the community and all of this marine life — or your names will be forever etched as the ones who could have saved it but decided shortsightedly to decimate this shoreline and the life that thrives here. Please put yourselves on the right side of history. We will all remember. This will be your legacy.

K. Jenkins and family
Huntington Beach

Wondering about Peterson

After watching last Monday’s Huntington Beach City Council meeting and reading Matt Szabo’s article “Huntington Beach City Council votes against suing the state over mandated housing numbers,” I am left wondering: Why does Erik Peterson continue to waste council time?

We get it. Councilman Peterson doesn’t like government, and of course, that is his right. However, no one should use their platform as an elected official to willfully undermine local governance, yet this is precisely what Mr. Peterson seems to be doing. Sadly, it’s not a stretch to imagine that Mr. Peterson goes into every council meeting with a singular goal: grind the proceeding to a halt.

So last Monday, with his face obscured through a majority of the Zoom meeting and without adding much to the council’s discussions, Mr. Peterson sponsored an agenda item seeking to challenge a decision previously discussed and acted upon — an agenda item who’s sole aim was to initiate yet another legal battle with another public entity, the Southern California Assn. of Governments.


Five members of our current City Council have managed to forge a politically diverse coalition comprised of conservative, moderate and progressive members who together are pursuing an agenda aimed at moving Huntington Beach forward. I applaud these council members for coming together and putting the needs of our city and its residents first.

As for Mr. Peterson and his ne’er-do-well sidekick: Either get on board and start acting like a public servant or resign. Huntington Beach has suffered enough.

Steve Shepherd
Huntington Beach

Preservation or recreation?

The article about Harbor Soaring Society in the April 22 edition of the Daily Pilot was quite interesting. Going forward the city will develop a new master plan for the park. One question that is quite important is: Do the people of Costa Mesa wish to have a park or a preserve? The difference is significant and should be openly discussed when developing the next master plan.

Perhaps this is a topic for a future article about the park?

Henry A. Smith III
Vice President
Harbor Soaring Society

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