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The State Lands Commission today (Aug. 22) voted to approve a lease of state property for the Carlsbad desalination plant proposed by Poseidon Resources Corp. Earlier this month, the California Coastal Commission approved the project. Poseidon believes that the favorable vote by the lands commission closes the five-year permitting process. The company expects to begin the project next year and have the plant operational in 2011. Opponents such as the Sierra Club say the plant will destroy millions of fish and also generate greenhouse gas emissions, thus adding to global warming. The Surfrider Foundation has taken legal steps to block the project, but it is not known now whether those efforts will be successful.

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Comments

MarkScha Aug. 23, 2008 @ 1:38 p.m.

Poseidon built a desal plant for Tampa, Florida, located near a power plant. With the cost higher per gallon than pumping wells, I bet they get all they can from nonsaline sources. Also, I believe the plant was years late, due to problems uncovered after construction started.

Full potable recycling of water is likely cheaper than desal. If Orange County and LA can get over the yuck factor, so should San Diego.

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Burwell Aug. 22, 2008 @ 3:09 p.m.

Who's going to buy the water the desalination plant produces? Can a private company build a plant and force the local water agencies to buy its output, and at what price?

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Don Bauder Aug. 22, 2008 @ 3:43 p.m.

Response to post #1: Good questions. No private company can force a government agency to buy its products. If it gets down to desalination versus toilet-to-tap, presumably some agencies would opt for the former. I depends to some extent on how satisfactory the water is. Best, Don Bauder

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anony_mous Aug. 22, 2008 @ 5:39 p.m.

Poseidon claims "When complete, the Carlsbad facility will provide 50 million gallons per day of safe, sustainable, environmentally benign, drought-proof drinking water without additional cost or risk to ratepayers". Time will tell.

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Burwell Aug. 22, 2008 @ 6:21 p.m.

How will Poseidon transport the 50 million gallons per day it plans to produce without a pipeline? Are fleets of water trucks going to make hundreds of trips to the plant each day to transport the water to farms, construction sites, and industrial users?

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Don Bauder Aug. 22, 2008 @ 9:06 p.m.

Response to post #3: Yes, this could be an idle boast. Consumer acceptance will determine whether it works. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 22, 2008 @ 9:08 p.m.

Response to post #4: Good questions. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2008 @ 2:07 p.m.

Response to post #7: Getting over the yuck factor requires a lot of educational effort. Best, Don Bauder

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paul Aug. 23, 2008 @ 8:17 p.m.

The Poseidon deal smells. Marcela Escobar-Eck (notorious for her role in the Sunroad fiasco) left the employ of the city of San Diego after a long career to go to Carlsbad. In her one year in Carlsbad, she oversaw Poseidon take over the desal project from the San Diego County Water Authority and she signed off on all Carlsbad permits for the plant. She then left Carlsbad to go back to San Diego and work her magic for Sunroad. Was Poseidon the reason she was loaned to Carlsbad?

Tom Shephard is a lobbyist for Poseidon. His top person left his lobbying firm to work directly for Poseidon. Tom Shepherd, of course, is the guy who got Mayor Sanders elected (twice). The city of San Diego has no connection with or interest in the Poseidon plant, and will not buy any water from it, yet Mayor Sanders personally went to the Coastal Commission to lobby them in favor of Poseidon. Why, do you suppose, he would do that? I don't suppose it has anything to do with the myriad of Delaware LLC's that San Diego routinely does businees with, even though it violates the city charter to not know who you are doing business with? (thanks to Pat Flannery, once again: http://www.blogofsandiego.com/).

Poseidon has to have some sweet deal lined up to guarantee the purchase of its water, because the price of its water produced with unsubsidized power is projected to cost between 2 and 3 times the price of the Orange County GWR plant (Toilet to tap), that will eventually produce 5 times the amount of water that Poseidon will eventually produce.

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paul Aug. 23, 2008 @ 8:19 p.m.

Don, Regarding the yuck factor, Just how clean do people think the coastal waters off San Diego are? The local spin machine thinks the local rubes are incredibly "gullible" (stupid?), and unfortunately they seem to be proven right most of the time.

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2008 @ 9:29 p.m.

Response to post #9: Yes, the Poseidon deal does have an odor about it. Shephard's role raises questions. I fear it is unstoppable now, however. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 23, 2008 @ 9:31 p.m.

Response to post #11: Excellent point. People who hold their noses at toilet-to-tap don't know what ends up in the ocean: sewage. They are going to get toilet-to-tap no matter what. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Aug. 24, 2008 @ 10:29 a.m.

Some facts about water:

  1. There is no more or less water today than 100,000 years ago. We live in a closed system and ALL water is recycled.

  2. Fill a glass with water. There are more water molecules in that glass than there are glasses of water in all the oceans in the world.

  3. At least one water molecule currently in your body's system at one time passed through the system of George Washington.

Those who dubbed water-recycling as "toilet to tap" engaged in cynical word-play to "poison the well" when it came to recycling. Do those same people have a direct financial interest in the vastly more expensive and less efficient desalination plant?

As usual in San Diego, the insiders are aided and abetted by a press corps that is either dishonest or ignorant. We're going to pay a lot more for water than necessary, and a privilaged few will profit enormously.

Best,

Fred

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2008 @ 12:16 p.m.

Response to post #13: Good points. The words "toilet-to-tap" were indeed a marketing coup. There is plenty of crap in the ocean, too; a desalination process would have to take out more than the salt. Best, Don Bauder

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paul Aug. 24, 2008 @ 4:08 p.m.

Desalination is very energy intensive, which is why it is rarely done anywhere in the world where there is another option. Our energy is not cheap, and SDG&E claims we don't have enough. SDG&E is already trying to sell us on the Sunrise Powerlink to bring in more power. How does converting a power plant into a power hog like the Poseidon Encina desal plant fit in to that equation?

I also want to know what the financial incentives are for Poseidon. With a level playing field they can't compete with state water, and they can't compete with the prices Orange County claims for it's toilet to tap (assuming we ever build one), so there does not seem to be any market for the Desal plant. Their water will only be price competitive if their energy use is massively subsidized.

Somebody is going to be left holding the bag in this deal, and the one thing I know is that it won't be Poseidon, Shepherd, or the other local insiders (fronted by Sanders, among others) who are pushing this thing down our throats while stalling "toilet to tap".

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Don Bauder Aug. 24, 2008 @ 7:40 p.m.

Response to post #15: Your points are well taken. There is an odor about this Poseidon deal. Best, Don Bauder

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