Exploration of Ocean Desalination
The Orange County Water District Board of Directors held meetings in June and July 2016 to continue discussions on the proposed Huntington Beach Poseidon Resources Ocean Desalination project.
At the June 1, 2016 OCWD Board of Directors meeting, the following items were reviewed and voted on:
- Extended a confidentiality agreement with Poseidon Resources. Laws exist that allow Poseidon to protect sensitive cost information that could be used by competitors. This information is shared with the District but is not available for general circulation;
- Authorized OCWD staff to begin working on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents for OCWD’s portion of the proposed project pertaining to distribution. Poseidon Resources will reimburse OCWD for the cost of this work (via execution of a reimbursement agreement) and take the risk that the project is never constructed. OCWD will incur the full CEQA cost if the desalination project is constructed. The preparation of necessary CEQA documents can by a lengthy process. Given that most grants and low interest loans require that CEQA be completed before a project can even be considered to receive these funds, it’s a good strategy to start the CEQA process sooner than later. The cost of this project is a sensitive issue and the District wants to know what grants and low interest loans might be obtained.
- Heard a presentation regarding the quality of the Poseidon water and possible issues that need to be managed if the project water is integrated into existing water systems. The plant would be constructed to insure compliance with all federal and state drinking water regulations.
On July 6, 2016, the OCWD Board held Distribution Workshop #3 to continue reviewing the different options that exist to transmit the ocean desalination water to various areas and customers in Orange County. The Board ultimately voted to direct OCWD staff to study in greater detail an Option #6 that: (1) sells the ocean desalinated water directly to coastal cities such as Huntington Beach and Newport Beach and the Mesa Water District. These three agencies would then reduce their groundwater pumping by an equivalent amount. And (2) the remaining ocean desalinated water would be injected into the OCWD groundwater basin.
OCWD staff will now investigate Option #6 in greater detail by determining the exact location of where necessary facilities would be located, determine exactly how much water could be sold to the coastal agencies, model how the OCWD groundwater basin will respond to recharging a percentage of the desalinated water and reducing groundwater pumping along the coast, meeting/coordinating with the cities where new pipelines and recharge facilities could be constructed, and updating the capital cost estimate.
Finally, as of the preparation of this article, it still appears the Poseidon Project could be heard and considered by the California Coastal Commission at its September meeting in the City of Newport Beach.
An audio recording of the OCWD Board meetings and supporting documents are available at http://www.ocwd.com/about/meeting-agendas-minutes/
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