NEWS WORTH NOTING: Napolitano holds forum on SoCal’s water future; Santa Ana Regional Water Board deems Huntington Beach Desalination Project application complete; Poseidon’s Carlsbad desalination plant plagued by problems, Huntington Beach proposal faces steep opposition

Napolitano Holds Forum on SoCal’s Water Future

From Congresswoman Grace Napolitano's office:

Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) held a public forum with local residents and leaders of industry, government, research, and academia at the Performing Arts Center of Baldwin Park to discuss how to achieve a sustainable water future for Southern California.

“Today’s forum is truly a team effort with the central goal of securing a reliable, sustainable water supply for the San Gabriel Valley and all of Southern California,” Napolitano said. “Universities, water agencies, cities, businesses, farmers, and residents must all work together, and science must continue to be at the root of our water policy discussions. We are grateful to have many of the brightest minds in their respective fields with us today, whose innovative approaches may help us address our toughest water supply challenges and infrastructure needs right here in the San Gabriel Valley. We thank all of our panelists for sharing their time and expertise and all who have come to learn, dialogue, and advance solutions for our region.”

Approximately 125 people attended the forum and heard from more than a dozen speakers and panelists. Presentations highlighted ongoing challenges facing the region with unpredictable drought cycles and climate change, while offering insights into how to continue expanding Southern California’s water portfolio with the emphasis on sustainability.

“This is a continuation of the Congresswoman’s commitment to annually hold a water forum that brings together local water districts, government officials, and academic institutions to discuss the opportunities and issues of water importance to the 32nd District,” said Dave Wegner of the Water Science Technology Board, National Academy of Sciences. “It allows for discussions between the users and regulators, and fosters an environment to look at innovative opportunities and approaches to water issues before they become problematic, while helping to educate young people on interacting with the government on water issues.”

“As we work collaboratively to address our water supply needs, success will come through the sharing of information and resources,” said Anthony Zampiello, the Executive Officer of the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster. “Events such as this increase partnership opportunities and help area water leaders to preserve and improve the water quality and quantity for our communities.”

“It is critical that we work together to address our water problems,” said Thomas Wong, President of the Board of Directors for the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. “Today’s forum was an excellent opportunity to learn about and engage with what's happening at the federal, state, and local levels as we prepare for our region's water future.”

“Today was great to hear about all of the innovative and exciting water projects that will be important solutions to help with our water supply challenges,” said Sam Pedroza, Claremont City Councilman. “I was happy to be here representing Claremont to explore ways to secure funding for local governments, from state and federal sources, to maintain affordable water prices for the San Gabriel Valley.”

Napolitano is a long-time promoter of conservation, water recycling, desalination, and groundwater management as solutions to Southern California’s water needs. She is the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, and a current member and former Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Water, Power, and Oceans Subcommittee.

All presentations by panelists will be uploaded following the event and available here:

Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board Deems Huntington Beach Desalination Project Application Complete

Determination marks important milestone in the final phase of project permitting

From Poseidon Water:

Today, Poseidon Water announced that the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Board”) has deemed complete the Huntington Beach Desalination Project (“Project”) application to amend and renew its existing ocean discharge permit and for a determination that the proposed Project complies with the California’s new, stringent seawater desalination regulations.

The Regional Board first approved the Project’s ocean discharge permit in 2006.  The Regional Board’s permit, a five-year operating permit, was amended and renewed in 2012, at which point the Regional Board determined that the proposed project would use the best available site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasibility to minimize the intake and mortality of all forms of marine life consistent with the requirements of California Water Code Section 13142.5(b).

In May 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an amendment to the California Ocean Plan creating new regulations for demonstrating compliance with CWC Section 13142.5(b). On March 15, 2016, Poseidon enhanced the Project’s seawater intake and discharge technologies to demonstrate compliance with the new state regulations and submitted its permit renewal application to the Regional Board. Over the past seventeen months Poseidon provided over 100 reports and technical memoranda demonstrating the amended Project’s compliance with California’s new seawater desalination regulations.

“We are grateful to the staffs of the State and Regional Water Boards for their thoughtful consideration of our application, input towards developing the exhaustive environmental analysis and the determination that the Regional Board now has sufficient information to determine compliance with the state’s new seawater desalination regulations,” said Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni.

In October 2016, Poseidon Water and the staffs of the California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission and Regional Board executed an agreement for the timely and orderly processing of the Project’s final permit approvals. The Regional Board’s determination that Poseidon’s application is complete is an important milestone in the remaining permitting schedule.  The Regional Board can now finalize its review of the reports that Poseidon has provided and start the process of drafting the ocean discharge permit amendment and analysis necessary to show the Project’s compliance with the California Ocean Plan’s new seawater desalination regulations.

The proposed Huntington Beach Project will be the first large-scale desalination facility in the world to include 1mm (1/25th inch, approximately the thickness of a credit card) slot width seawater intake screens and have a through-screen water velocity of less than 0.5 feet per second in an open-ocean setting. The plant will also include state-of-the-art diffuser technology that will ensure that the salinity level in the plant’s seawater discharge meets the State Water Board’s stringent new receiving water quality requirements.

In addition, as a leader in the industry, Poseidon has voluntarily committed to offsetting 100% of the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Plant’s direct and indirect GHG emissions from the electricity grid through either the purchase of renewable power or the purchase of carbon offsets.  While the reverse osmosis process to be used by Poseidon’s seawater desalination facility does not emit greenhouse gases, energy purchased from the grid may incur a carbon footprint for which Poseidon has developed a protocol for identifying, securing, monitoring and updating measures to eliminate GHG impact.

“We are proud of this unprecedented commitment, which will make the Huntington Beach facility the largest water treatment plant in California that is 100% carbon neutral. Once completed, Huntington Beach will be home to the largest, most technologically advanced, energy efficient and environmentally responsible seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere,” Maloni said.

In 2015, the Orange County Water District’s Board of Directors approved a Water Reliability Agreement Term Sheet for the purchase of 50 million gallons per day of drinking water from the proposed project. In a letter to the Regional Board sharing its policy of moving away from climate-driven sources of water, the Orange County Water District stated, “The Huntington Beach Desalination Project is the single largest source of new, local drinking water supply available to the region.  In addition to offsetting imported water demand, water from the Project could provide flexibility in how the District manages the groundwater basin.”

Poseidon’s Carlsbad desalination plant plagued by problems

Huntington Beach proposal faces steep opposition

From the Orange County Coastkeeper:

Poseidon Water, and its Canadian-owned parent company Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, have spent millions trying lobbying for approval of a new desalination plant in Huntington Beach. The billion dollar facility would be the twin of a Carlsbad plant Poseidon built in December 2015, which has been plagued with problems since its opening.

As Voice of San Diego reported yesterday, the Carlsbad plant failed to deliver about 20 percent of the promised water in 2016, and produced no water for 46 days. During its 18-month history, the plant’s reliability has gotten worse. It delivered 90 percent of the water San Diego County Water Authority ordered in 2016, and just 70 percent so far in 2017.  At the same time, it has racked up more than a dozen water pollution violations.

Meanwhile, the company’s Huntington Beach proposal is facing steep opposition from environmental and equity leaders across the state. Much of the opposition centers on the outsized cost and lack of need for the plant (given the availability of cheaper alternatives, like recycled water from Orange County’s leading edge Groundwater Replenishment System, which produces more than twice the water of the proposed desalination plant for a fraction of the cost.) But harm to Orange County’s coastal ocean, and the tourism, recreation and fishing businesses it supports, are also concerning.

On August 17, the Fish and Game Commission sent a letter to the State Lands Commission urging the Commission to consider sea life impacts of desalination. The letter emphasizes the importance of adhering to the Ocean Plan Amendment that requires new desalination plants to minimize marine life impacts through smart site selection and the best available science and technology. Poseidon’s proposed Huntington Beach plant is near several marine protected areas and uses outdated open ocean intake pipes that will suck up tons of fish and eggs.  The State Lands Commission will consider the permit for Poseidon’s proposed plant on October 19.

“The troubled history of the Carlsbad desalination plant, from unreliable water deliveries to repeat pollution violations, should be a cautionary tale for Orange County,” said Garry Brown of Orange County Coastkeeper. “Poseidon is a bad actor, there is no reason to sell off a vital public service to this Wall Street water company when we have better options available to meet our long-term needs, like the Ground Water Replenishment System that now delivers twice as much water for substantially less money and is scheduled to be expanded.”

Following the State Lands Commission hearing, the project will be reviewed by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Coastal Commission. For more information about the proposed desalination plant, and alternatives, visit


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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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