Community News

State Lands Commission Staff Recommends Approval of Poseidon's Technologically-Enhanced Huntington Beach Desalination Plant

by: Shannon Flaherty
Posted: October 16, 2017

HUNTINGTON BEACH...The California State Lands Commission ("Commission") staff report released Thursday, October 12, 2017 recommends approval of the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project ("Project"), which will be considered by the Commission on Thursday, October 19th. 

In 2010, the Commission first approved the Project, authorized through a lease agreement Poseidon's use of the existing seawater intake and discharge pipelines running underneath Huntington State Beach as part of the proposed desalination facility.  Poseidon has now amended its project description to include state-of-the-art seawater intake and discharge technologies that will replace the ocean inlet of the existing seawater intake and outfall.  The Commission has prepared a Supplemental Environmental Impact Report ("SEIR") and Lease Amendment. 

In its staff report, the Commission finds that the technologically-enhanced desalination facility will reduce seawater intake volume by 30% - down to 106.7 million gallons per day from the 152 million gallons per day volume approved by the Commission in 2010 – while still producing 50 million gallons per day of drinking water. 

The Commission staff report concludes there are no significant, unmitigable impacts to marine life that would result from the long-term operation of the facility. 

"Staff believes this alternative accomplishes the project objectives," Commission staff writes in the report. "Therefore, staff recommends that the Commission approve the environmentally superior alternative of rotating brush-cleaned stainless screens." 

The staff report further states, "Authorization of the Proposed Lease Amendment is consistent with Strategy 1.1 of the Commission's Strategic Plan to deliver the highest levels of public health and safety in the protection, preservation, and responsible economic use of the lands and resources under the Commission's jurisdiction."  

Commission staff recommends that the Commission "Find that the Proposed Lease Amendment will not substantially interfere with the Public Trust needs and values at this location, at this time, for the term of the lease; is consistent with the common law Public Trust Doctrine; and is in the best interests of the State."  

The proposed Huntington Beach Project will be the first large-scale desalination facility in the world to include 1mm (1/25th inch, approximately the thickness of a credit card) slot width seawater intake screens and have a through-screen water velocity of less than 0.5 feet per second in an open-ocean setting. The plant will also include state-of-the-art diffuser technology that will ensure that the salinity level in the plant's seawater discharge meets the State Water Board's stringent new receiving water quality requirements at 4-5.5 meters from the point of discharge, well within the 100-meter regulatory requirement. 

In addition to Poseidon's proposed Bolsa Chica restoration plan, the company has agreed as a condition of the facility's lease agreement with the State Lands Commission to make an annual deposit of $300,000 in the State Land's Commission's Kapiloff Land Bank Fund for use in the adaptive management, maintenance and operations of the Bolsa Chica Lowlands Restoration Project.   

"The staff recommendation to certify the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report and Lease Amendment is based on sound science and public policy," said Scott Maloni, Vice President of Poseidon Water. "We have made every effort to make this the most environmentally friendly and technologically advanced seawater desalination plant in the world. We are so happy to see these efforts recognized by the State Lands Commission staff." 

The project will produce 56,000 acre feet per year (50 million gallons per day) of locally controlled, drought-proof drinking water that will reduce Orange County's need to import water from Northern California and the Colorado River. The Huntington Beach Project is the single largest source of new, local drinking water supply available to the region and is identified in County water planning documents as a planned future water supply.


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