Is Huntington Beach Really About to Get an Dead Ocean Zone?

Salt brine undersea outfall pipe. Make sure to attend the Coastal Commission hearing on September 7th, 8th, or 9th (Date TBD soon) at Newport Beach City Hall and say NO to salt and chemical pollution of Surf City!

The Inertia

Palm trees, the pier, and pollution… Is this really the Surf City we want? If Poseidon Desalination gets its way, the coast of Huntington Beach will be continuously polluted with salt and chemical wastewater. The resulting waste plume from the desalination process would stretch from Newland Sreet, just south of the Huntington Beach Pier, to Newport River Jetties, another popular surfing spot.

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Would the wastewater really create a dead zone? For many marine animals, yes. According to a Coastal Commission staff report, the saltwater pumped back into the ocean would be up to double the salinity of normal salt water. The State Lands Commission determined that marine life would therefore avoid the area. Turns out that not many fish would enjoy living in a salt waste plume. Who knew? And Orange County Coastkeeper asserts that the broader effects of the waste plume would impact marine life from Palos Verdes to Dana Point.

Orange County Coastkeeper, a leader in the fight against this polluting proposal, is also worried about the harmful chemicals that will be piped into the ocean. These include chemicals used during the desalination process, as well as heavy metals from pipe corrosion.

But aren’t we in a drought? Yes, but Orange County is a leader in sustainable water recycling and doesn’t need expensive desalination. And Poseidon’s water wouldn’t even be directly used. It would be pumped into groundwater, where it would become polluted and then have to be extracted at a cost later.

The end price of expensive desalinated water would cost ratepayers more money. Who wants that when we can just recycle more water? This desalination plant would be on the way to becoming a taxpayer boondoggle.

Don’t live near Surf City? Don’t care? Be warned, this desalination plant would be the first allowed to start sucking ocean water, but many more facilities have been proposed along the California coast. While some cities have backed away from their proposals in the last 10 years, many people are still watching the outcome of the Coastal Commission hearing this September. If Poseidon is successful, then many of these other facilities (and more) will start asking for permission to build (and pollute)!


Desalination plants proposed.

How can we stop it, you ask? First, make your voice heard at the Coastal Commission hearing on September 7th, 8th, or 9th (date TBD soon) at the Newport Beach City Hall. Doors will open at 9 a.m. Get your name in before 10 a.m so you can get a speaker slip and address the Commission in public comment. The hearing will most likely last all day, and public comment will likely be sometime around noon.

Oh, and we’re asking locals to take off two vacation days: one for the Poseidon Desalination hearing, and one for the Banning Ranch hearing that will most likely be on a consecutive day. Next week, I’ll follow up on the oil pollution impacts to Newport River Jetties from the proposed Banning Ranch project.

For more info on Poseidon Desalination, check out Orange County Coastkeeper’s webpage, and visit the Residents for Responsible Desalination’s website.