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.

2 minute read

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.


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

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

3 hours ago - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

4 hours ago - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

5 hours ago - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.