Although local water officials rarely dissent on the topic of desalination, Irvine Ranch Water District Director Peer Swan is personally opposed to both proposed Orange County ocean desalination plants, but not for any of the environmental reasons often listed by other opponents, who are concerned that, especially in the case of Poseidon, marine life will be killed by the associated intake and outflow systems. He is opposed because he believes that neither project will fulfill its intended purpose—to provide a needed or cost-effective water supply. Swan’s critique and a recent poll reveal the potential vulnerability of local desalination projects to a turn in public opinion.
The OCWD’s board of directors has been loath to use commonsense over the past year, rushing toward a draft contract with Poseidon Resources for a $1 billion desalination plant, while limiting transparency and public discussion of important issues left unanswered. Now a new commonsense idea has come forth from one of the County’s most experienced water managers, Peer Swan, who serves on the Irvine Ranch Water District Board of Directors. OCWD should implement Swan’s idea before considering a deal with Poseidon for unneeded and much more expensive water.
Centuries ago, explorers sailed Poseidon’s Seven Seas looking for beautiful mermaids and lands full of golden treasures. Although some of the hapless adventurers may have found what they were looking for, those who didn’t drink too much seawater were usually disappointed. Today, it looks like Poseidon, the God of the Sea, is up to his old tricks again.
A public forum held by Garden Grove mayor Bao Nguyen last night examined the cost of and alternatives to a proposed $1 billion ocean desalination plant promoted by the Orange County Water District.
Those issues–and the panel of local experts who discussed them last night–have been all but ignored by most of the OCWD Board of Directors, some of whom have strong financial and political ties to Poseidon Resources Inc., the company that would build the plant, and its big-business allies.
It’s election time. So, in September, Poseidon Resources released another push poll that shows widespread public support for a $1 billion ocean desalination plant that it hopes to build in southeast Huntington Beach. But some of the poll’s under emphasized results stand out, suggesting that an honestly conducted poll might produce different results.
Spontaneous interviews with Mesa Water staff or members of the board of directors are discouraged whenever possible by Communications Manager, Stacy Taylor. Potentially tough or touchy media questions must be submitted to her in advance so that she can provide public answers that fit Mesa Water’s “unified voice” template. Emails acquired under the Public Records Act later would reveal how cynically manipulative Shoenberger, Taylor and LPA had been and that Mesa Water officials are motivated more by vanity than a desire to objectively inform the ratepayers.
“MWDOC holds seven redundant meetings a month, each of which guarantees a $221.62 daily payment to each of its seven directors, who typically attend all committee meetings and also receive benefits and health insurance. Directors also travel, with a budget over $30,000 a year to attend local, state and national conferences (not including their meeting payments). If you are one of the directors appointed to MET, you also get paid to attend MET meetings.”