[UPDATE 12:30 pm:] Robert Hunter, the General Manager of the Municipal Water District of Orange County, wrote us an email emphasizing the Board of Directors did not vote against selling Poseidon water. According to Hunter, the MWDOC Board of Directors decided on Feb. 5th that “a joint resolution and new committee were not necessary because they already have a bi-monthly, joint, public meeting to collaborate on water issues.” In other words, they took no action on the proposed resolution to help sell Poseidon water because they found it unnecessary when they have open, joint meetings to discuss any water topics necessary. As it stands, Poseidon is still without a customer to purchase their water.
Also, it should be noted that the Reliability Study presented at the meeting explored all the potential projects that could benefit Orange County. The findings of the study reveal that the Poseidon project would produce far too much water, while the California WaterFix and California EcoRestore stand as the most cost effective projects to ensure long term reliability to our region.
ORIGINAL STORY: New hurdles now plague the proposed Huntington Beach desalination project. At the Municipal Water District of Orange County’s (MWDOC) planning and operations committee meeting on Feb. 6th, the board of directors met to discuss moving forward with a new resolution to help sell Poseidon’s desalinated water. Prior to the meeting, the Orange County Water District (OCWD) had asked MWDOC if they would help push Poseidon water, if the proposed project passed. But a majority of board members declined to create a new resolution, thus leaving the issue of who will help sell Poseidon Water undetermined.
Ray Heimstra, the Associate Director of Programs at Orange County Coastkeeper, explains that MWDOC’s decision doesn’t mean they’re voting against Posiedon, however. “It was really more of a compromise between those on the [MWDOC] board [of directors] who wanted to move forward with the resolution and those who didn’t” he says. “They knew they didn’t need to start a new resolution for this.”
MWDOC’s decision eliminated the idea of a resolution, which is a positive to take away. But that wasn’t the only knock against Poseidon that meeting. According to a long-term reliability study focusing on OCWD’s projected water needs in 2040, MWDOC found that OCWD will only need 6,500 acre feet of new water. Poseidon, according to the study, will supply nearly 56,000 acre feet of new water per year, putting the proposed desal plant in a wasteful light. [Please refer to update above]
“2040 is only 25 years away,” reminds Heimstra. “We won’t need as much water as the desal plant is projected to produce. They hired consultants and really crunched the numbers.”
The fight, as always, isn’t over. A Coastal Commission hearing looms, and Trump has Poseidon on his project to-do list. Nevertheless, the proposed desal plant is looking more unnecessary than ever. “The facts are literally right there in MWDOC’s presentation,” says Heimstra. “We do not need this project.”