California Environmentalists Shut Down Desalination Plant as American West Faces Historic Water Crisis

The State of California rejected plans for a major desalination plant in May, spiking a source of water for hundreds of thousands of people as the American West faces a historic drought. Desalination refers to the treatment and purification of ocean water for drinking and agricultural use. The state shot down Poseidon Water’s plan for a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, thirty miles south of Los Angeles. The plant was designed to produce 50 million gallons of drinkable water from Pacific Ocean saltwater every single day, according to Reuters. Environmental concerns played a key role in convincing the California Coastal Commission to spike the Poseidon water plant. State regulators ultimately voted unanimously against giving the plant to go-ahead. Commissioners cited a proposed risk to marine life that the plant posed. Environmental activists present at the commission’s hearing on the plant celebrated as they tanked the project. Poseidon questioned how the state could shut down the plant in a statement after the hearing. “California continues to face a punishing drought, with no end in sight,” said the company. “We firmly believe that this desalination project would have created a sustainable, drought-tolerant source of water.” Gov. Gavin Newsom openly supported the idea, according to the Orange County Register. California is one of seven signatories to the 1922 Colorado River Compact, an interstate agreement that divides the use of the river’s water. The state is allocated 4.4 million acre-feet of water yearly under the compact. It’s the only state in the agreement that borders the ocean, thus making it an ideal candidate for investment in desalination. California also has the highest-priority rights to Colorado River water under the agreement. Lake Mead, the biggest water reservoir in the western United States, has declined significantly in volume amid excessive Colorado River water usage. The water shortage has spurred states to look creatively at water preservation and new potential water sources. But this hasn’t extended to desalination in California, with its abundant Pacific Ocean coastline. It’s one thing to slash tires, blame other people and order the public to eat bugs as a response to climate change. It’s another to actually implement lasting, serious solutions to the problems. The state of California has demonstrated its willingness to pass the buck down the line to its neighbors in this regard, with environmental concerns apparently becoming irrelevant the moment they stand to impact those outside the state. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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