We all know desalination in Huntington Beach is going to be expensive for Orange County, but according to a draft report by an independent panel of scientists published this week, making desalination as ocean -friendly as possible is going to be even more horribly expensive. The report, published jointly by the California Coastal Commission and Poseidon, found that deploying subsurface intakes (the kind of intakes that would block all of those fish eggs from getting sucked in) would increase the cost of water by approximately 80 percent, from an average of $1,914 per acre-foot to around $3,450.
The Huntington Beach site isn't required to have subsurface intakes. According to State Water Resources Control Board, they are preferred, but if they are unfeasible, surface intakes (like the already built AES ones) can be used in their place though they'll kill more eggs and cost a little more to operate.
Coastkeeper, one of the main non-profits opposing Poseidon, says the Commission should push the company to look at alternative sites.
"The report shows an estimated damage to marine life of $58 million, which is actually an under-estimate of the damage surface intakes will cause. The surface intakes Poseidon plans on using will kill 80 million fish larvae, eggs and invertebrates per year and impact hundreds of miles of coast including our Marine Protected Areas from Palos Verdes to Dana Point," says Orange County Coastkeeper Executive Director Garry Brown. "The Governor recently ordered Californians to conserve 25 percent of their water use and Orange County is meeting that goal. Poseidon's plant would only produce eight percent of Orange County's water. With conservation efforts thus far, Orange County already saved the equivalent of three Poseidon sized desalination plants at no cost."