Another appeal against Carlsbad desalination project

An appeal against a court ruling allowing the Carlsbad desalination plant to use the open-ocean cooling-water intakes of the adjacent power station for its water intake was launched on 18 August 2011 by the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit grassroots organization.

The Superior Court of San Diego had to decide whether the site, design, technology and mitigation measures chosen by developer Poseidon Resources would successfully minimize the marine life killed in the seawater intake process.

In her judgment on 24 June 2011, Judge Judith Hayes ruled that the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board properly applied state law, and that “Water Code Section 13142.5(b) does not prohibit the implementation of restorative mitigation measures when considering a project’s best available, site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible.”

Judge Hayes’ ruling went on to say, “The plain language of the (section) provides that mitigation measures, together with the best available site, design and technology will be used for each new coastal industrial plant.”

Surfrider Foundation and other environmental organizations argue that this type of cooling water intake is being phased out by regulatory agencies to eliminate the associated marine life mortality. Allowing other industrial facilities, such as desalination plants, to continue to use outdated technology does not comport with California’s law, the foundation says.

“California coastal protection policies are clear that desalination project proponents must protect our marine life, and it is clear that this project fails to do that,” says Joe Geever, Surfrider Foundation’s California Policy Coordinator. “We turn to the courts as a last resort, because while the State Water Resource Control Board and the Ocean Protection Council are developing policy on protecting marine life from ocean desalination intakes, it is too late to affect this particular project.”