Huntington Beach councillors oppose desalination plan

The City of Huntington Beach in California voted on 6 May 2013 to allow council members to individually send letters to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) opposing the coastal development permit (CDP) for a seawater desalination plant which the previous council had approved in 2010.

Poseidon Resources, which recently began construction work on the Carlsbad seawater desalination plant, proposes to build a similar 50 MGD (189,000 m³/d) reverse-osmosis plant in Huntington Beach.

The opposition was raised by Mayor Connie Boardman, following three hours of public testimony about the project. She said that the CCC was likely to consider the CDP around July 2013 and that, as the council membership had changed, she wanted to give the current council an opportunity to express its opinion regarding the proposed plant.

“My suggested action is to oppose the CDP,” said Boardman, “or to have the city council communicate to the CCC that the current city council, as a matter of public policy, does not support the project as it is currently presented.”

Boardman clarified that her objection was not about desalination in general, but just about the specific project.

Chris Garrett, attorney for Poseidon, had emailed city staff earlier in the day, stating Poseidon would “exercise its legal rights and remedies if the council were to take collective action to adopt the item.” It was in response to this warning of legal action, which Poseidon denied was a “threat”, that the council eventually passed the motion to send individual letters rather that a collective council communication.