Saturday Checklist: Clean Huntington Beach, Write Letters, Protest Desalination Plant

Site of the proposed ocean desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

Orange County Coastkeeper and other clean-water lovers gather for a Huntington State Beach cleanup Saturday morning, but they will be doing more than filling trash bags with cigarette butts, plastic water bottles and Styrofoam bits that fish confuse for lunch.

“The event begins with a beach cleanup,” a Coastkeeper tells the Weekly, “and then it morphs into a letter-writing campaign and traditional rally at the proposed location for the desal plant.”

That would be the long dreamed-of/fought facility that would turn sea water into drinking water. Poseidon Water has spent more than $1.6 million over 15 years on lobbying and campaign contributions aimed at installing the $1 billion desalination plant next to the AES power station on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway at Newland Street.

Environmentalists have fought the plant on grounds that the produced water will cost too much in dollars, energy used to create it and ecological damage as intake pipes would suck in marine life and the plant’s chemical-laden brine would pollute nearby marine protected areas.

Activists argue there are less expensive and more sustainable options for developing new water supplies. For instance, Orange County discharges tens of millions of gallons of water into the ocean every day that could be reused. Oh yeah, and we’re no longer in a drought.

The rally is being held in advance of the Orange County Water District’s July 18 board meeting. The district’s website indicates it abandoned the idea of desalinating ocean water in the 1970s, believing it was wrong for the region. The district now believes technology has improved and the region’s population and thirst have grown. “Ocean desalination is the kind of critical investment in water reliability that OCWD has been making for more than 80 years and deserves careful consideration,” states the site.

Coastkeeper expects a large crowd near the proposed plant to counter that line of thinking. Those who would like to join them should meet around 10:45 a.m. near Huntington State Beach Tower 2.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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