State Water Board dismisses desalination petition

CARLSBAD — The State Water Resources Control Board announced its decision to dismiss a petition from environmental groups San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation, to review a Regional Board permit for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant.
According to members of Coastkeeper, who oppose the plant, the decision comes almost simultaneously with the release of policy regarding the negative impacts of the antiquated once-through-cooling technology used in power plants, the same technology that will be used in the proposed Carlsbad Desalination Plant.
“The State Water Board’s position on once-through-cooling technology is in direct conflict with its decision to decline to hear an appeal of the Carlsbad plant,” said Coastkeeper Legal Director Gabriel Solmer. “Unfortunately, the political pressure to approve the project has been so great; common sense has been dismissed along with the petition to review this flawed and incomplete permit.”
Coastkeeper cites the Tampa Bay Times as stating that even though residents in the Florida have reduced demand for water, their rates will continue to rise because of the utility’s investment in a reservoir and the nation’s biggest desalination plant, also built by Poseidon Resources.
According to Coastkeeper, environmental scientist James Fryer’s report concluded that while plants suggest marginal costs of $800 to $1,000 per acre-foot, the realistic estimates will range closer to $2,000 to $3,000 per acre-foot. His investigation to clarify the costs of desalinated water examined many projects including Tampa Bay, Carlsbad, Santa Barbara and Marin.
“We are not opposed to desalination,” Solmer said. “We are for responsible water supply choices. Given the recent news on the Tampa Bay plant, the research into actual costs to desalinate water and the State Board’s policy on the cooling technology, the Carlsbad plant simply doesn’t live up to our needs.”
Coastkeeper is currently providing comments on the State Board’s Once-Through-Cooling Policy and evaluating the State Board’s dismissal for possible future action.

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