Huntington Beach neighbors say they are worried about the possible construction of a desalination plant

Oscar Rodriguez, 26, has spent most of his life in the Oak View community in Huntington Beach (Orange County) – where almost 90% of residents are Latino.

Currently, many of the neighbors are worried as a company tries to build a desalination plant and they claim it could affect them.

Desalination is a process to remove salt and other minerals; as well as most of the biological and organic compounds of saline water to later produce high quality liquid that is suitable for drinking, explains the Poseidon Water company page – which presented the project.

"About a week ago we received notification that Poseidon is looking for loans to build it," Rodriguez said. "This is not right because it would affect us all since the cost of water would rise."

In October, the US Environmental Protection Agency selected the Poseidon Water Desalination Project with a proposed $ 585 million in credit assistance under the Federal Government Water Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Act (WIFIA).

However, residents believe they are not being considered and that the health of thousands is at stake; as well as the marine life and the high costs of the water that apparently would rise in up to 3%.
Rodriguez said that people who benefit from the sea, whether through fishing, surfing and other water activities, would be affected.

“Because all that salt they collect will not take it elsewhere, they will return it to the sea, affecting marine animals. This affects everyone, ”said the activist and resident of Huntington Beach.

Neighbors outside the Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting in Sta. Ana.

For this reason, Rodriguez, accompanied by dozens of Orange County residents – environmental justice defenders and water experts – arrived at Huntington Beach City Hall on Friday morning for the meeting of the Regional Water Quality Control Board of Santa Ana, to make public comments on the subject.

Those who oppose the construction of the plant say that the proposal ignores the most affordable and reliable local drinking water supplies – such as a recently expanded wastewater recycling facility – that is already operating in Orange County.

On the other hand, they indicate that the desalination of Poseidon Water would worsen environmental injustice, as it would cause moderate and / or severe increases in the water rate for low-income households in Orange County. In addition, it would put the residents of the area in a 30-year contract to pay for water.

A study by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, revealed that about two gallons of ocean water is needed to create a gallon of fresh water and costs 50% more energy to perform this process.

Andrea León Grossmann, deputy director of the environmental justice organization AZUL, said the 30-year contract would only benefit investors while residents would pay the highest costs.

"The biggest problem may be for tenants who could raise their rent and / or if they can't afford it because of the high cost of water they could face evictions," Grossmann said.

During the demonstration, they asked for environmental justice and defend the water in their area. / photos: supplied.

He added that the entire Orange County is in danger if this project is approved.

The Opinion tried to obtain a comment on the subject by the Poseidon company but until the closing of this edition, it did not receive an answer.

However, in its web portal it ensures that the Huntington Beach desalination plant is a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive solution for Orange County residents.

The company guarantees significant economic benefits for the city and the region including "millions of dollars in economic stimulus during the installation" and "the creation of more than 2,000 jobs during construction and 322 indirect jobs once the installation is in operation."

Poseidon Water is currently in the final phase of the project permit process and is working with state agencies to secure the remaining development permits.


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