Panel finds that subsurface intake at the proposed site would have “Severe” Environmental Impacts
Huntington Beach, CA – After releasing a public review draft in August, the Independent Scientific Technical Advisory Panel (ISTAP) jointly convened by the California Coastal Commission staff and Poseidon Water has published its final report assessing the feasibility of alternative subsurface seawater intake technologies for Poseidon Water’s proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project. The report judges that subsurface intake technologies at the site would lead to “severe” adverse environmental and social impacts during construction as well as long-term environmental impacts from operations. Compared to the screened-ocean intake proposed by the company, the ISTAP also concluded that subsurface intakes would cost an additional $1.1 - $1.5 billion to construct, and be economically infeasible due to the financing risks that are a barrier to implementation.
Poseidon issued the following statement:
“The ISTAP process has confirmed the conclusions previously reached by the City of Huntington Beach and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board that subsurface intake technologies are technically infeasible and environmentally inferior, and that the seawater intake system Poseidon has proposed for the Huntington Beach desalination project is the only economically viable and most environmentally sensitive for that site,” said Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni. “We are grateful to the Coastal Commission staff, members of the panel and the panel facilitator CONCUR INC., for their expertise, cooperation and dedication that made this process so successful.”
The site and project-specific independent evaluation was directed by a vote of the Coastal Commission in November 2013. Specifically, the ISTAP process has verified that a SIG would have short-term and long-term environmental impacts on marine life, wetlands, GHG emissions; would disturb sensitive coastal species; would increase local traffic; would result in impacts to public access and recreation and the beneficial use of the Huntington Beach shoreline by the public; and would lead to a potentially measurable loss of income to visitor serving businesses and local tax revenue in Huntington Beach.
The findings and conclusions in the draft ISTAP report issued in August were unchanged in the final November report. In August the Huntington Beach City Attorney’s office issued a letter stating that “The certified SEIR concluded that a SIG was both infeasible and an environmentally inferior option to open ocean intake design. It does not appear from the draft report’s findings that circumstances have changed.” The below infographic, prepared by Poseidon Water, compares and contrasts the two seawater intake technologies: