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A Thirsty Land: Water Wars in Southern California, Part 1: Can desalination secure Orange County’s water future?

by AirTalk®

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Poseidon Water has proposed a desalination plant in Huntington Beach and wants to use existing open-water intake for collecting and discharging water. The California Coastal Commission staff is recommending approval of the project but with conditions that include using subsurface intakes. (Photo: Artist rendering of Poseidon Water desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach, Calif.) Courtesy of Poseidon Water

One hundred years ago today, the California Aqueduct was completed, and that imported water became the foundation that Southern California was built on. That water sustained the creation of countless jobs, new industries, massive-scale farming, and a population boom that made Los Angeles one of the world’s great cities.

Ironically, though, Mulholland’s aqueduct didn’t quench the thirst of Southern California. In fact, it proved that the region had massive growth potential, if only it could get the water.

A century after that imported water went flooding into the San Fernando Valley, the region struggles to get the water necessary to support population growth. Case in point, next Wednesday (November 13, 2013), at a meeting of the California Coastal Commissioners in Newport Beach, the CCC will consider Poseidon Water’s application for a Coastal Development Permit that would allow Poseidon Water to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach.

The Orange County Water District is looking for new sources to quench the thirst of its growing population, but environmentalists warn that desalination is a pollution-heavy practice with an unstable track record.

Do you support the idea of turning seawater into tap water? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? If not desalination, how will the OC get the water it will likely need in coming decades?

Conner Everts, co-chair of the Desal Response Group, which promotes sustainable alternatives to ocean

Shawn Dewane, President of the Board of Directors, Orange County Water District, Chairman of CalDesal, an advocate for clean, safe, reliable drinking water for California through environmentally responsible water desalination and salinity management

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