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Desal moves ahead as water board approves flow plan

May 13, 2009 - 11:30 am

Poseidon Resources took another step toward actually converting a cup of seawater into a glass of tap water this morning when the San Diego Water Quality Control Board approved a new plan for marine life monitoring.

The approval was in some doubt last month when news broke that Poseidon had badly underestimated the amount of fish that would be killed when seawater was brought in for desalination. As a result of that discovery, the new flow plan requires Poseidon to monitor in real-time the amount of fish killed by their plan after it is in operation, and to ensure that the wetlands they plan to restore produce enough fish to offset the damage.

Board members approved the plan unanimously.

Marco Gonzalez, an attorney representing Surfrider Foundation to oppose the project, said Surfrider plans to bring the issue before the State Water Quality Control Board, where he is optimistic for a better result.

As an aside, two water board members lambasted the California Coastal Commission for not attending the meeting. Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas had sent a stern letter to the board pointing out several errors in the calculations provided by Poseidon and asking the board to hold off on a decision. Douglas could not attend today’s meeting because of budget restrictions, but that did not stop water board members from slamming him for not attending any of the board’s meetings on the desal plant. Board member David King expressed his outrage “at the arrogance in only providing input by letter.”

Staff member Chiara Clemente pointed out in the hearing that at least two of the water board hearings coincided with Coastal Commission hearings, precluding Douglas’ appearance in San Diego.

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