By Kathy Lee Scott/Garden Grove Journal
“Residents have asked us to look into alternative water sources,” said Keith Jones, director of public works. “This is an opportunity for us to do so.”
The cost of water to Garden Grove could increase dramatically if less Colorado River water is diverted to Southern California or less water gets pumped from the Sacramento Delta area. Already cities and water districts have raised rates to their users.
Poseidon Resources Corp. plans to construct a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, which would produce up to 50 million gallons of fresh water daily, enough to supply 110,000 households. To entice investors, Poseidon has signed long-term water customer agreements with various Orange County water agencies, such as the cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana, plus Irvine Ranch Water District, among others.
Poseidon figures to sell its water at $1,000 per acre foot once it’s produced. An acre-foot can provide two families with enough water for a year.
The city of Garden Grove expressed an interest in possibly buying up to 10,000 acre feet annually. To be considered, the council had to sign a letter of intent, a memo of understanding and a confidentiality agreement.
“None of these obligate us to anything,” Jones said.
At its first meeting of 2010, the council unanimously voted to go ahead. “We can pull out at anytime,” said Mayor William Dalton.
According to Scott Maloni, vice president of the Connecticut-based Poseidon, the confidentiality agreement keeps its financials, business structure and team members private.
Another reason came from San Diego Water Authority’s attempt to wrest from Poseidon years of confidential data and research on its Carlsbad, Calif., facility.
“The state gives us the right to protect that,” Maloni said.
The Huntington Beach desalination facility will be built next to Applied Energy Services Corp.’s power plant along Pacific Coast Highway
“We have a long-term agreement with the power plant, but its technology is half a century old,” he said. “Eventually, it will change how it cools its condensers, which will impact our project.”
Water from the power plant’s outflow would be diverted into the desalination plant, where it would undergo reverse osmosis and additional treatment to become potable. The residual brine would then be released back into the same outflow pipe and into the ocean.
In 2006, Huntington Beach approved Poseidon’s $250-milliion plant with a 4-3 vote.
The company still has to get Coastal Commission’s approval, as well as an okay from the State Lands Commission, Maloni said.
After 11 years of planning, Poseidon recently obtained final approval to start building a similar desalination plant in Carlsbad, north of San Diego.
That project, as its earlier Tampa Bay, Fl., plant, has generated strong opposition from the environmentalists. Critics claimed sea life would be killed at the intake pipe, and the higher salt concentration at the outflow pipes would adversely affect the immediate environment.
Poseidon’s funding mechanism has also come under attack. While the company repeatedly stated it would build “at no cost to taxpayers,” it has asked the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee for $530 million in tax-exempt bonds. That’s in addition to a $350-million subsidy from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, according to Joe Geever from the Surfrider Foundation.