The State Lands Commission on Thursday, Oct. 19 will consider a controversial $859 million desalination plant proposed for the site of a power plant in Huntington Beach — a decision that could set the tone for future large desalination plants throughout the state.
The commission will review a modified environmental report and whether to renew the lease Poseidon Water has for the outtake and intake pipes that run under the beach at the 9 a.m. meeting Thursday at Huntington Beach City Hall.
The State Lands Commission is the first of three major regulatory hurdles the proposed plant must clear before construction can begin.
Poseidon representatives have billed the plant as a drought-proof source of pure drinkable water that could serve the entire county.
But the plant has drawn sharp criticism from Orange County environmental groups and some residents since it was first proposed 15 years ago. Opponents have expressed concerns that the brine discharged from the site would be too salty and sink to the bottom, killing wildlife, and that small animals and fish larvae would be sucked into the plant, diminishing local animal populations.
To combat that and to comply with the state’s ocean plan, the plant builders have proposed outfitting intake pipes with one millimeter-wide screens and a spraying discharge method to reduce the salinity. Opponents say these measures are not enough. They also have criticized the cost of the water and said to meet future water needs Orange County residents would be better served by conservation measures.
After the State Lands Commission, the Poseidon project will have to appear before the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, which will decide whether the project can discharge brine into the ocean with a federal permit and determine whether the plant is following the state’s guidelines on desalination plants.
After that perhaps the project’s biggest hurdle will be a review from the California Coastal Commission, which…