Controversy Follows California's Massive Desalination Plant Proposal

Poseidon Water, a massive desalination project proposed for the Pacific coast in Huntington Beach, has been in the works for more than two decades. A critical vote is expected for the project next month.

Read Time: 2 minutes

April 25, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


An energy production facility rises above a wetlands along the Pacific Ocean.

The Huntington Beach Wetlands and the Huntington Beach Energy Center are the proposed site for the Poseidon Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant. | Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock

The Poseidon Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant, proposed for the Pacific coast in Huntington Beach, will face a critical vote by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) in May.

The controversial desalination project has been in the works for more than two decades, sparking controversy between two competing versions of sustainability.

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Ian James summarizes the controversy:

The long-running fight over the proposal encompasses contentious issues such as the effects on marine life, power requirements and whether the low-lying site is vulnerable to sea-level rise, as well as the company’s heavy political lobbying for the lucrative project.

And:

At the heart of the debate, there are fundamental arguments about whether Orange County really needs the water, how the area should adapt to worsening droughts with climate change, and whether the costs would be a reasonable investment to secure reliable water or an exorbitant megaproject that would mean higher water rates for decades to come.

Leading the opposition, according to James, is a coalition of environmental groups called Stop Poseidon. California Coastkeeper Alliance, California Coastal Protection Network, Orange County Coastkeeper, and the Surfrider Foundation, comprise the coalition, along with others.

The feature-length article provides a lot more detail about the debate ahead of next month’s historic vote by the CCC.

Planetizen coverage of Poseidon Water:

Friday, April 22, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee