Coastkeeper, Surfrider sue over Poseidon's desalination plant in Carlsbad

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Construction's underway at a desalination plant in San Diego county, but Southern California environmental groups continue to challenge the plant in federal court. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports.

The company Poseidon Resources is building a plant in Carlsbad to make 50 million gallons of fresh water a day out of ocean water. That’s almost a tenth of San Diego County’s water needs.

Surfrider and San Diego Coastkeeper have fought the project from the beginning. They're concerned that when the plant sucks in millions of gallons of seawater each day, it'll kill massive numbers of tiny organisms that make up part of the ocean's food web. The groups argue in a new lawsuit that the plant would violate California’s Water Code.

Under its government-issued permits, Poseidon is required to do restoration projects elsewhere, to mitigate the fish kill and other impacts. But the environmental groups claim that's not enough.

The company has prevailed at every other hearing in the last seven years, during 20 public meetings and hundreds of hours of testimony. Construction started last fall. It’s supposed to be finished within 2 years.