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Ocean Protection Council Is Holding an Informational Panel on Ocean Desalination

November 23 2009 | Know Your H20,
by Liana Harlan

The Ocean Protection Council (OPC), after many requests from Surfrider Foundation and our partners in the environmental community, is holding an informational panel on ocean desalination. The meeting is right here in San Diego:

November 30, 2009
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Scripps Seaside Forum
8610 Kennel Way (formerly Discovery Way)
La Jolla, CA

It is our hope this panel presentation and public input will lead to an informed resolution from the OPC to several government agencies that will finally set standards on the best technology and location for ocean desalination. But maybe more importantly, the resolution can identify a set of alternatives to ocean desalination that restore our coast and ocean while meeting our demand for freshwater.

We want to emphasize that ocean desalination, if not done properly, will unnecessarily kill marine life in the seawater intakes and because of it's enormous energy demand will increase the state's cumulative greenhouse gas emissions — undermining the state's efforts to restore healthy marine life populations and reduce climate change and all the threats it creates to our coast and ocean.

Before we race into building massive ocean desalination facilities, we should fully implement water conservation programs that not only lower our demand, but eliminate polluted urban runoff — like our Ocean Friendly Gardens program.

We should also eliminate partially treated sewage discharges to the ocean and purify that water for re-use. Between Ventura and San Diego, we discharge approximately 1.3 billion gallons of water a day from our wastewater treatment plants. Recycling just a fraction of that water would eliminate the need for ocean desalination. And for those of us who care about our coast and ocean, water recycling eliminates a source of pollution and dramatically reduces the current energy demand of importing water to the region. Ocean desal increases both the energy demand "embedded" in water, increases the water we waste by discharging it to the ocean — and kills fish in the process.

Join us in telling the Ocean Protection Council that we want California to prioritize alternatives to our water supply portfolio that are consistent with our goals to restore and protect our coast and ocean. The current so-called "water crisis" is a call for water management reform — not expensive and environmentally damaging "band-aid" fixes like ocean desal that only make the problems we're trying to solve worse.
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