Ocean Protection
February 06 2017

Conservation Before Desalination: Resisting the Trump Administration Agenda

Amid the many White House leaks since President Trump took office is a list of 50 "Emergency and National Security Projects." Among those listed lies Poseidon's proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant. Given that desalination is the most expensive and energy-intensive water supply option, an unnecessary, billion-dollar plant makes zero fiscal sense – which is why, coupled with the direct environmental impacts, Surfrider Foundation has long opposed the project.

Poseidon’s own figures show the water from the proposed Huntington Beach plant would cost 20 percent more than imported water with a public subsidy and twice as much without. A recent study by the nonpartisan Pacific Institute found that communities could save a relative fortune by investing in conservation, efficiency and recycled water instead. In fact, Orange County already has a recycled water facility that produces far more water than the proposed desalination plant for a fraction of the cost. Additionally, Orange County’s April 2016 water plan shows that all water needs through 2040 can be met without the plant and shows a healthy surplus through 2040 for Metropolitan, the agency that supplies Southern California's imported water. 

Besides being unnecessary and expensive, to desalinate water uses triple the energy as recycling it. Considering California's leadership on energy efficiency and climate action, Poseidon's proposal adds insult to injury. As the state advances smarter water policies – the City of Los Angeles embraced Ocean Friendly Garden principles last year, for example – Surfrider will continue resisting efforts to undermine the progress we've made.