Back in the fall of 2007 I wrote a piece about the Poseidon Resources proposed desalination plan in Carlsbad. Poseidon – Is Desalination in the Cards for San Diego? As an update on this article, Poseidon Resources are back in the news as they try to get the final approval from th State Coastal Commission to move forward with construction of the Desalination plant.
There are some that see this as a poor remedy for whatever shortages here might be in water resources and others that see desalination as a best hope. Since this debate affects so many in Southern California and the outcome so important to the future available water supplies, I thought what I might do here is to present the arguments for and the arguments against this particular project and you can decide which one of the arguments is best and actually holds “water”.
Proponents for the current proposal by Poseidon Resources
The San Diego regional Water Quality Control Board which had approved this proposal twice in the last 2 years feels that the the project can move forward without harming the coastal resources.
Those supporting this proposal feel that the desalination project is environmentally benign than is actually critical to the preservation and enhancement of the Aqua Hedionda Lagoon.
This Lagoon the site for the desalination project was man-made by the private operators of the power plant is the source of cooling water a healthy ecosystem that has existed in the Lagoon has to be credited to the good stewardship by the private power company and local government.
This ecosystem has continuously and currently still supports recreation industry and research.
Ironically the Aqua Hedionda Lagoon is the home of the Hubbs-Seaworld fish hatchery and the Carlsbad Aquafarm and the YMCA camp and education center. These were all possible because of the way the ecosystem was designed and maintained by the power company.
In the proposal, the desalination Plant will operate using the same system and provide continuous care of the lagoon.
Argument Against the Current Proposal
Those opposes say that sucking seawater directly from the lagoon is a devastating practice of catching marine life in the intake of this water. Other power plants are phasing out this practice of using water to cool the plant and now are using air cooling instead.
Those that oppose acknowledge that even this Encina Power plant will be converting over to air cooling and it would be not in the best interests of the marine life to allow the practice with the Poseidon Desalination Plant.
They propose that that instead of using water from the Lagoon , the Poseidon should use water drawn from the below the ocean floor. They do acknowledge that that technology is available , albeit more expensive. They feel that perhaps when imported water reaches a higher price, it might make desalination economically feasible. In the interim, those that oppose the Poseidon resources feel that other means of supplying water such as toilet to tap, recycled water, conservation of current supplies would be more environmentally friendly.
Their argument also suggests that it might make sense to to construct smaller plants that environmentally friendly rather than this proposal that puts the plant next to a phased out power plant just so it can utilize the antiquated intake structure.
The other reasons for opposing was that San Diego has not enough to utilize the the other more readily available water resources. San Diego and the communities waste too water and with conservation, we could well meet the needs of the demand on the areas. In the interim, those that oppose the Poseidon resources feel that other means of supplying water such as toilet to tap, recycled water, conservation of current supplies would be more environmentally friendly. Recycling water would also be even less expensive than desalination process.
Those opposed feel that that until these alternatives are exhausted, desalination is premature anyway. They fault the politicians for not wanting to take the difficult course of mandating conservation practices and feel they are choosing the easier course of approving desalination as a supply line and in the process bidding the health of the of ocean goodbye.