Brandon Hernández 9:22 a.m., May 24
The Surfrider Foundation filed an appeal to a decision to allow “open ocean” intake at a proposed desalinization plant in Carlsbad today. Superior court judge Judith Hayes had initially ruled in favor of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board on the matter. If completed, the North County facility that’s spent 15 years in the design and permitting stages would be the largest ever built in the United States.
Using these “open ocean” intakes involves drawing ocean water through a tube with a “trash screen” attached to prevent debris intake. Surfrider argues that such devices cause large fish to become stuck to the screen and trapped, while smaller marine life is sucked into the intake and killed. The devices are currently used at many coastal power plants, including the Encina Power Station near the proposed development and whose expelled cooling water is intended to be “converted to high quality drinking water,” according to Poseidon Resources, the plant’s developer.
According to a press release issued by the group on August 19, “Surfrider Foundation and other environmental organizations argue that these “cooling water intakes” are being phased out by regulatory agencies to eliminate the associated marine life mortality.” They therefore do not wish to see the same technologies gaining acceptance in desalinization plants that are losing favor in the power-generating industry.
Surfrider, for its part, is opposed to desalinization as a solution to water-supply issues, saying in its release that the group “believes that ocean desalination is harmful to the marine environment” and that “[t]he costs associated with desalination undermine efforts to develop alternatives that would provide reliable water sources that simultaneously resolve problems of ocean pollution, habitat degradation and the growing energy demand while saving money for regional ratepayers.”