Orange County Register

Should we rely on Norcal or Poseidon?

Bill Borden

What do the delta smelt and Poseidon Resources have in common? Actually, one is the source of a monumental problem for Southern California and the other represents a very practical solution.

Currently, more than 50 percent of Orange County’s water comes from the Sacramento Delta and the Colorado River. Any significant reduction in this supply poses problems for the county and all of Southern California.

This is where the delta smelt comes in. Some overly zealous protectors of little fishies have arrived at the conclusion that the 4-inch delta darling is somehow endangered.
Consequently, we are under an order to reduce our delta usage by 30 percent.

Now, it is not that I don’t like the delta smelt; in fact, they are quite tasty on party rye after sauteing in lemon butter. But the might-as-well-be-separate state of Northern California seems to take great delight in making things difficult for us here in Southern California – the state that pays the overwhelming portion of taxes collected in both.

Something smells funny to me about the whole fishy deal, but we’re going to have to live with it. We have an extremely delicate water supply and delivery system, and it is not going to get any better until we have more complete control over it..

Close to home in Long Beach, residents are permitted to water lawns only three days a week and only at night. If we don’t do something about our water supply now, these limitations and more will be facing us as well.

What can we do about our dependence upon the People’s Republic of Northern California for water? Well, part of the solution appears to be the making of fresh water from our almost endless supply of sea water. It is done the world over and the opportunity exists to do it here as well.

Poseidon Resources, a worldwide company in the business of water reclamation and desalination, appears to have the best plan so far. Very recently, it was granted a development permit by the California Coastal Commission to construct a desalination plant in Carlsbad, and by 2010, it will be providing a drought-proof supply of drinkable water for the San Diego region.

Here in Huntington Beach, Poseidon intends to build another facility that will treat and deliver 50 million gallons of safe drinking water per day. It will be built in an industrial area close to the AES plant; it will generate an estimated $2 million in tax revenue for the city annually; and the $240-million enterprise will be built at no cost to the taxpayers.

Poseidon will not take water directly from the ocean. It will use the water discharged by the power plant, desalinate it and deliver the drinkable water to cities in Orange County.

It is anticipated that the Huntington Beach Poseidon plan will go to the state Coastal Commission in January or February for approval. You can be sure that the anti-everythings will have a big bus full of enthusiastic protestors with more smelt stories for the commission whenever and wherever the hearing takes place.

Perhaps, unlike the pseudo-science that seems to permeate hearings and the subsequent legal gymnastics that are typical in the other state, reason and good sense will prevail here in Southern California and Huntington Beach.

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