Poseidon - What's in a Name?

  • Posted on 31 August 2020
  • By Charming Evelyn - Chair, Water Committee
[Updated 9/2/20 @ 4:00 PM]
The Huntington Beach Ocean Desalination plant is being proposed by Poseidon. What a title for a company! Do you think anyone with Poseidon stopped to consider their namesake? Poseidon is considered to be one of the most bad-tempered, moody, and greedy Olympian gods and known to be quite vengeful when insulted.
Who was Poseidon?
Poseidon is known as the god of the sea, earthquakes, storms, and horses. Poseidon is Greek for ‘husband’ and was worshipped as a fertility god. He could produce an earthquake by striking the ground with his 3-pronged Trident, his weapon of choice. He was notoriously moody as the ocean, calm one moment, then lashing out furiously as a sudden storm and like said storms prone to destruction with his outbursts. He liked to assert dominion over women and show off how masculine he was.
How appropriate for the name of a company wanting to build an ocean desalination plant on a known earthquake fault in a tsunami zone, adjacent to an EPA Superfund site, using outdated technology, lobbying the Newsom Administration to fast track the project, trying to push through a gut and amend bill in Sacramento to bypass the Coastal Commission and operating as a de facto Director on the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board courtesy of board member Kris Murray, who has in the past received campaign contributions from Poseidon.
After 28 hours (over 3 days) of presentations, public comments and Board deliberations, the board sent the staff to do more work on the mitigation of the project. The proposed mitigation is for the annual dredging of a man-made inlet in the Bolsa Chica wetlands, deemed insufficient as under the Ocean Amendment, as it does not meet the criteria of restoration or creation to mitigate the loss of marine life over the 50-year cycle of the proposed plant. 
The board questioned the “need” for the project under the auspices of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, mitigation sufficiency, incomplete or open-ended permit, and human right to water under the board adopted resolution: 
Staff have to develop proposed revisions to the permit, with supporting documents to support Board of Directors actions and circulate to Poseidon and the public. Opponents of the project contend that the plant is unnecessary and as per the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) Report the water is not needed as Orange County has enough water to meet its needs and has a robust groundwater replenishment system using recycled water. There’s also the loss of larvae at the intake site, loss of marine life at the brine discharge site, and the social justice effects of a post COVID world with rising water rates, and desalted water being the most expensive water to date.
Noted during the hearing, was staff saying that mitigation at Los Cerritos Wetlands was not considered since West Basin MWD was already considering it as part of their mitigation for their proposed ocean desalination plant. Sources at West Basin have revealed this is not true and has never been the case.
The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board uses Zoom meeting service, and allows remote public participation. The next hearing is scheduled for Sept, 17th. Will Poseidon triumph? Keep tuned in for the continuation of this saga.
Get involved with the Water Committee. We especially need members from Orange County to work with us on water issues, as well as Spanish speaking volunteers.
Update 9/2/20 4:00PM: This is a message from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region (8).
On August 7, 2020, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board continued the hearing for the NPDES permit and Water Code section 13142.5(b) determination (Tentative Order R8-2020-005) for Poseidon Water's proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Facility to September 17, 2020. To allow time for staff to address the issues raised by the Board, the hearing is being postponed to a future date. Board Staff need additional time to discuss and coordinate with other agencies and to make changes to the Tentative Order in accordance with the Board's direction. Poseidon Water has also asked for the continuation of the hearing to evaluate the feasibility of potential mitigation projects. At this time, Board Staff estimate that approximately 30–40 days are needed to coordinate with other agencies, discuss potential mitigation options with Poseidon, and prepare revisions to the Tentative Order. The Board will send out a notice of the new continued hearing date when a date certain is determined.

[Header photo: Poseidon Desalination Plant Huntington Beach, CA; John Nilsson all rights reserved]

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what is the under construction large white building(s) with the bright blue pipes...sitting next to the old AES electrical facility?

Can you clarify what the Water Committee's stance is on this project, and on the water security of Southern California more generally? If the Committee opposes the desalination plant, why? What alternates would the Committee support? Cheers, Adam

The Angeles Chapter Water Committee has been in opposition of this proposed plant for 10 years. SoCal has done exceedingly well with water management, we use the same amount of water that we did in the 1970's and projections of water use are declining because population is declining along with an increase in better water efficiency standards/appliances and conservation. There are many reasons why we oppose the plant, which some are mentioned in this article and other articles on this website. 1. Does not meet the standards set by the CA Ocean Plan, 2. Water is not needed, not enough customers 3. Too expensive $2200+/ACF compared to groundwater at $450/ACF and imported water $1100/ACF 4. Energy intensive, more GHG 5. Creates a dead zone 6. Destruction of marine larvae at intake site 7. Located next to a Superfund site 8. Uses old technology 9. Water is heavily laden with boron 10. Rate payer will bear the brunt of the cost Sierra Club has written 2 White Papers on Alternatives: https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce-authors/u14412/SCC_Water_Report_2019.pdf

Thanks for the info! I found the 2019 report very interesting. While I still think there may be a benefit to having additional capacity in our water system, I agree that common sense strategies of recycling, reuse, and more efficient use should take precedence over expensive projects that could potentially cause irreversible damage. More generally, I would certainly encourage you and others to discuss and promote well-researched alternatives rather than simply attacking other proposals :) Attacking the name of a company in particular seems like a distraction and beside the point.

Everything we do is well researched. These White papers did not write themselves. Furthermore if you conduct a search of this website you will find many articles dedicated to the discussion of this project. This is just one of many articles over the years.

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