Orange County Desalination Plant Wins Key Approval

A desali­na­tion plant pro­posed for the Pacif­ic Coast in Dana Point, Cal­i­for­nia, gained key from the Cal­i­for­nia Coastal Com­mis­sion (CCC), just months after the CCC reject­ed a pro­pos­al for anoth­er pow­er plant in Hunt­ing­ton Beach, 30 miles up the coast. 

Brooke Stag­gs reports in a pay­walled arti­cle for the OC Reg­is­ter that the approval of the Dohe­ny project in Dana Point gave some in Cal­i­for­nia a sigh of , know­ing that the May deci­sion to reject the Posei­don plant in Hunt­ing­ton Beach was not the ulti­mate demise of desali­na­tion in California—a sore­ly in need of to water sup­ply lim­i­ta­tions expect­ed to wors­en with cli­mate

Some of the experts that tes­ti­fied at the CCC hear­ing on the Dohe­ny plant called com­par­isons between the two projects “ludi­crous.” The Dohe­ny plant will only cost $140 mil­lion, rather than $1.4 bil­lion, for exam­ple. The Posei­don project was also locat­ed in Cen­tral Orange , which is locat­ed on top of a large under­ground aquifer. 

“Costs also should be shared between sev­er­al agen­cies who can ben­e­fit from the added water sup­ply. That means month­ly bills are pro­ject­ed to go up $2.38 per bill once the plant is built, vs. a pro­ject­ed increase of as much as near­ly $9 per bill for the Posei­don project. And the costs con­nect­ed to Dohe­ny won’t hit all cus­tomers as a flat increase, SCWD says, with plans to study dif­fer­ent rate struc­tures,” explains Stag­gs.

If com­plet­ed, the Dohe­ny plant would turn 5 mil­lion gal­lons of ocean water a day into drink­ing water as soon as 2027. The plant “still needs one more key per­mit to reach full approval,” accord­ing to Stag­gs. “Also, South Coast Water Dis­trict, the Lagu­na Beach-based agency devel­op­ing the project, still needs to ham­mer out com­plex agree­ments with poten­tial water agency before an esti­mat­ed three-year con­struc­tion can begin.”

The arti­cle notes that despite the Dohe­ny plan­t’s key vic­to­ry with the CCC, it still faces polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion, includ­ing from the same envi­ron­men­tal groups that opposed the Posei­don plant.

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