On a prime bit of coastline near Sydney, Australia sits a gleaming new desalination plant. Completed in 2010 at a cost of almost $2 billion, it now sits idle. The owners are strangely unconcerned about their massive investment going offline, however. That’s because Sydney signed a contract that forces the “customers” to pay out millions in profits to the company whether the plant produces water or not.
If we don’t act now, we may soon have a do-nothing desal plant of our own here in San Diego, hogging the beach and tapping into our water bills. Where most people see a cautionary tale, Poseidon Resources Corporation, forges ahead. But Poseidon is worried that the recent election may bode poorly for their scheme, so they are pushing hard for San Diego’s water agencies to ink a 30-year contract on November 29th. Sweetheart deals result in plants like the one in Sydney that produces only profits, not water. And just like Sydney, we’ll have to pay for this water whether we need it or not.
Tell your representatives at the County Water Authority to vote “NO!” on guaranteed profits. Stop the rush to sign this long-term contract. Urge them to consider more financially responsible and environmentally friendly options like conservation and indirect potable reuse.
ACTION ALERT: We have long fought this project because of the numerous negative impacts like killing fish, wasting energy, increasing greenhouse gases and increasing the price we pay for water. And we have long pointed out the alternatives that will IMPROVE our coast and ocean environment.
One alternative is conservation. A recent report said San Diego hasn’t even scratched the surface of conservation! Because 50-60% of our residential water use goes to watering lawns the County Water Authority could spend a fraction of the $900 million dollars they will spend on the desalination plant, and help homeowners retrofit their gardens to not only conserve over half our water demand – but to do it in a way that dramatically reduces pollution reaching our beaches.
Another alternative is Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR), the fancy name for recycled water treated to drinking standards. It is a lot cheaper, and it has the added benefit of reducing wastewater discharge into our ocean. Orange County residents have been drinking water from this source for several years.
We think prioritizing these water supply options over desalination is basic common sense! An independent water economist, and San Diego’s Independent Rates Oversight Commission, formed by Mayor Sanders agrees that more scrutiny of desal is necessary!
Please take a moment to sign our action alert, which asks why we are prioritizing desal over other better options?