Poseidon plays down watchdog’s warning

The developer of a giant desalination project at Huntingdon Beach, California has played down a recent notice from the Coastal Commission telling the firm that its application for a development permit was incomplete.

“A notice of incomplete application is very standard, and in our experience, it’s par for the course,” said Poseidon vice president Scott Maloni. “Since 2006, when we first submitted our application, we received 12 notices of incomplete application. It’s not inadequacy of the application, in our opinion. It’s just the desire of the Coastal Commission staff to have voluminous information,” said Maloni. He said the requested information should be submitted in month to six weeks.

According to local press, the commission has told Poseidon Water that the application would not be filed and placed on a meeting agenda until it receives information about recent modifications to the project. Poseidon resubmitted its coastal development application in September after pulling it in November 2013 to commission a study on the feasibility of subsurface water intakes for the plant.
Poseidon expects the Coastal Commission to consider the application sometime in the first quarter of 2016, Maloni said.

In the commission’s letter, environmental scientist Tom Luster, listed 15 topics where information was lacking, including the Orange County Water District’s role in the project and whether additional approval under the California Environmental Quality Act was required for the proposed use of a rotating screen on the facility intake pipe and a diffuser on its discharge pipe. The company originally proposed using a stationary intake filter to protect marine life from being drawn in, And the discharge pipe initially was proposed without a diffuser.

The commission has also asked Poseidon to clarify whether its application will include its subsurface intake feasibility studies. After a 2014 study reported that subsurface intakes were technically feasible a second study this August found that they would not be economically viable.

Objectors to the plant, the Surfrider Foundation and Residents for Responsible Desalination, said the commission’s letter confirmed that the company had submitted a “skeleton” application to flush out what the commission wold want to know. “This is information that has been requested since we filed an appeal on their first application in 2006,” said consultant for the objectors, Joe Geever.