Environmental activists have led the State of California to reject approval of a major water desalination plant in the southern part of the state. The decision eliminates a potential source of clean water for hundreds of thousands of residents amid the historic drought hitting the western U.S.
Poseidon Water had sought approval of a plan for the desalination facility in Huntington Beach, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. Desalination plants are equipped to treat and purify water from the ocean so that it can be used for drinking, cleaning, and agricultural uses.
The proposed plant would have produced about 50 million gallons of clean water from the Pacific Ocean each day.
The California Coastal Commission responded to pressures about environmental concerns in rejecting the plant proposal. Citing a possible risk to marine life, the panel voted unanimously against the plant.
While environmental activists attending the commission’s meeting when the plans were rejected celebrated, Poseidon Water lamented the loss of a desperately needed source of water for the area.
Poseidon issued a statement saying it firmly believes that the project “would have created a sustainable, drought-tolerant source of water.”
Even Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom supported the proposed facility, saying in May, “We need more tools in the damn tool kit. We are as dumb as we want to be.”
California is one of seven states belonging to the 1922 Colorado River Compact, an agreement that allocates the use of the water from the river. As the only member state that borders the Pacific, it would be the best candidate for a desalination facility.
Increased usage of water from the Colorado River has led to significant depletion of Lake Mead in Nevada and Arizona, the largest water reservoir in the western U.S.
The shortage caused by recent drought conditions has caused western states to become more creative in searching for water sources. Even though it has an abundant ocean coastline, California has rejected desalination for additional water supplies in the region. Meanwhile, it continues to be the largest user of water from the Colorado River.
California regulators have shown they are willing to hand off the costs of the state’s high water usage to neighboring states while ignoring the urgency of developing safe and stable water sources for current and future residents.