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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.”

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Visduh Aug. 21, 2011 @ 2:21 p.m.

"Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink." (Some apologies to Coleridge.) Our So Cal dilemma is enjoying the marine environment while attempting to have a reliable and affordable supply of fresh water. Surfrider would carry much more credibility with me if they could enunciate alternatives to desalination of seawater, a proven technology. So, when Surfrider can describe "efforts to develop alternatives that would provide reliable water sources . . .”, I'd be far more likely to listen to them. The only two things I've heard of lately are "toilet to tap" water purification and a network of stormwater-capturing cisterns. Neither of those appears as straightforward as taking the salt out of seawater, of which we have an inexhaustible supply.


Twister Aug. 21, 2011 @ 4:48 p.m.

It's not just fish that would be stuck, sucked in, chewed up, and spat out in little rotting pieces by this boondoggle . . .

I, too, would like to see the numbers and projections--and, most importantly, an input-output PROMISE of where the money is coming from and going, and where it will come from and go to in the future. Who's going to absorb the cost-overruns and rate increases for this exceptionally expensive "source" of "fresh" water.

Who will trot out the excuses when the costs go up, systems fail, and what, precisely, choice will we have when the pressure is on (from, most likely, the threat that the pressure will go off if we don't comply?

Does anyone actually believe all the expensively contrived "public information" that has been generated to sell this immensely profitable scheme?

And what will happen to those who can't afford it? Will Oregon take our poor, our huddled middle-classes, yearning for a drink? Or can they just sup vinegar?



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