Surfrider filed appeal yesterday of San Diego’s Superior Court ruling siding with the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s determination to allow “open ocean” intake to withdraw seawater for an ocean desalination facility on the Carlsbad coast, the largest ever planned in the United States, and the first to be scrutinized by the California courts.
The question before the court is whether the site, design, technology and mitigation measures chosen by the project proponent, Poseidon Resources, minimize the marine life killed in the seawater intake process.
This project, and others like it proposed for the coast of California, originally planned to utilize the discharge from coastal power plants that withdraw seawater to cool their steam generators. But as Surfrider Foundation, and numerous other environmental organizations have argued from the beginning of the permitting process, these “cooling water intakes” are being phased out by regulatory agencies to eliminate the associated marine life mortality. Larger fish are trapped on the intake screens and smaller animals that get through are killed in the cooling process. Allowing other industrial facilities such as desalination plants to continue to use this outdated technology does not comport with California’s law.
According to Joe Geever, Surfrider Foundation’s California Policy Coordinator: “California law is clear that desalination project proponents must protect our precious marine life — and it’s equally clear this project has failed to do that. We only turn to the courts as a last resort. But in this case, the State Water Resources Control Board and the Ocean Protection Council are developing policy on protecting marine life from ocean desalination intakes too late to affect this particular project.”