"HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - Environmentalists say desalination decimates ocean life, costs too much money and energy, and soon will be made obsolete by water recycling. But as Western states face an epic drought, regulators appear ready to approve a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, California.
After spending 22 years and $100 million navigating a thicket of state regulations and environmentalists' challenges, Poseidon Water is down to one major regulatory hurdle - the California Coastal Commission. The company feels confident enough to talk of breaking ground by the end of next year on the $1.4 billion plant that would produce some 50 million gallons of drinking water daily.
"The Pacific Ocean is the largest reservoir in the world," said Poseidon vice president Scott Maloni. "It's always full."
California's Coastal Commission is expected to vote on Poseidon's permit application before year's end. Other agencies also still need to sign off. But a key authority, a regional water board, approved a permit for the project in April on condition that the company increase its commitment to rehabilitate the nearby 1,449-acre (586-hectare) Bolsa Chica wetlands reserve, an important bird habitat, and build an artificial reef."