Comments on the Revised Poseidon Resources – OCWD Term Sheet for Proposed Desalination Plant

Note: The Surf City Voice website was destroyed by hackers in December, 2019 and is under reconstruction. This story was first posted June 6, 2018.

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Poseidon Resources Inc. and the Orange County Water District’s Desalination Funding Ad hoc Committee have negotiated a proposed revised term sheet that if passed by the Board at its meeting June 6, 2018, would serve as a blueprint for a future full contract to build and run a $1 billion ocean desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

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The Surf City Voice received these comments from local critics of the proposed project.

Dave Hamilton
Analyst for Residents for Responsible Desalination: Ratepayers Will Pay $1.3 Billion more for Poseidon Desal Water than Imported Water

Desal Funding Ad-hoc committee
Desalination Funding “Ad-hoc” Committee members, from top, left to right: Cathy Green, Shawn Dewane, Stephen Sheldon, Vincente Sarmiento, Denis Bilodeau, and de facto member, Scott Maloni (Poseidon Resources VP)

I refer you to page 81 of 207 of the meeting agenda, and more particularly beginning at page 83 of 207 below the rubric “The 2018 Term Sheet”.The table on page 85 of 207 is more important to take in and understand.  What, why, and how the “Unit Cost” number “$1,916/af” was derived is poorly defined and probably an optimistic, best-case estimate.  However, the “Difference” number “$536/af” is staggering in its implications.  Extrapolating that number for 56,000 AF over 15 years of MWD subsidies and 15 years without subsidy, we, the ratepayers, would be paying a minimum of $1.3-Billion more for Poseidon desal water than MWD imported water.

Conner Everts
Facilitator for Environmental Water Caucus, Executive Director for Southern California Watershed Alliance: OWCD Puts Cart-Poseidon in Front of the Horse. False Need for Water Without Buyers and Huge Mistake

The only reason that Poseidon and the San Diego County Water Authority signed a 30-year take or pay contract was we were in the midst of a drought and because the San Diego County Water Authority did not have groundwater supplies to recharge with advanced treated recycled water. OCWD has not only a world-class groundwater replenishment system but is expanding that program to continue to maintain our groundwater supplies.

By putting the cart-Poseidon, a private company, in front of the horse, OCWD would be making a huge mistake, before there are confirmed retail purchasers for the water and therefore showing a false need. Without knowing the costs to individual cities and water agencies OCWD will have the same problems SDCWA does with angry customers who have escalating water rates and reduced demand.

New state water conservation bills signed last week will provide a future with less water needed, not more and listen to OCWD constituents on this one, this water is unneeded and unwanted and it is not OCWD’s job to make Poseidon whole.

Merle Moshiri
President of Residents for Responsible Desalination: OCWD and Poseidon are Ignoring Alternatives to Seawater Desalination

It would appear that once again, OCWD and Poseidon, are trying to ignore R4RD’s repeated request for a study into the alternatives of seawater desalination.  Their collective collaboration on a new Term Sheet (minus ANY input from their citizen’s advisory committee) will see to it that the ratepayers pay for this very expensive water, and here is the kicker…..whether we NEED it or not!  By their own statistics, they have NEVER seriously concluded that this water is needed much less that desalination is the answer.  We in Orange County enjoy the flexibility of looking at less expensive alternatives, i.e. groundwater storage, recycling, and conservation.  NONE of the feasible alternatives have been studied and then cost compared to desalination!It’s outrageous.As ratepayers, we need to demand this be done before we even THINK about paying a Canadian hedge fund billions of dollars MORE (approximately $1.2 Billion) over and above what our current water provider, MWD, would be paid for the same amount of water.  Profit is profit, but this is a disgrace that smacks of cronyism, greed, and ineptness on the part of the voting majority of the Board and Staff of the OCWD.Don’t let it happen.

Ray Hiemstra
Associate Director of Programs for Orange County Coastkeeper: Violations and Toxic Discharge at Poseidon’s Carlsbad Desalination Plant

As a local resident and environmental advocate, I am concerned about the potential for Poseidon’s  desalination plant to discharge toxic brine into the ocean in Huntington Beach.

I recently got a copy of the Poseidon Carlsbad 2017 annual report and it is appalling how many times they have violated their NPDES permit.  Their 2010 NPDES permit states that exceedances of the toxicity standard are enforceable; in 2017 they reported 36 violations of the toxicity standard, 11 deficient monitoring violations and 2 reporting violations.  In total, the average toxicity concentration for 7 of 12 months in 2017 was above the standard.   So far in 2018 they have had 11 toxicity violations. They have also conducted a TIE (attached) and are unable to identify the toxin so far. It is unknown if the toxins being produced can bioaccumulate or impact the marine environment over the long term. The San Diego Regional Water Board rightfully should shut down the Carlsbad Plant until this situation is corrected.

The consistency of these violations and the inability to identify the toxin(s) they are producing is directly tied to the Poseidon Huntington Beach project.  They will be using the same process to desalinate water, and producing the same toxins.  The difference is that the brine will not be diluted before discharge to the ocean, so we must assume that the brine discharged from the Poseidon Huntington Beach diffuser will be toxic.  This has not been discussed in any document related to the project. OCWD and the state Regulatory Agencies should not go forward with any aspect of the project until we can be assured that the plant will not discharge toxic brine to the ocean in Huntington Beach.

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