The January 7, 2015 edition of the OC Register contains an editorial advocating purchase of 56,000 acre feet of desalinated water from Poseidon Resources by the Orange County Water District (OCWD). Of course, there is no desalinated water yet to purchase, because Poseidon, despite years of trying to sell OC cities on its enterprise, hasn’t yet managed to build it’s $1 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach.
Tonight’s meeting of OCWD Directors to begin discussions about a possible purchase should be a perfect opportunity for Fullerton’s representative to the OCWD, Fullerton Councilmember Jan Flory, to point out all that is wrong with Poseidon’s plan to needlessly divert a public resource into private hands. Conservation is a far better strategy for meeting our freshwater needs than an energy-intensive and environmentally destructive desalination plant right in the middle of Southern California’s tourist-friendly coast.
The Register’s conclusion that conservation and reclamation are insufficient methods of meeting the region’s water needs reflects a shortsighted understanding of what is truly needed to address current and future deficiencies in our overall infrastructure. Water shortages should instead be understood as the natural result of our irresponsibly unlimited growth without the necessary resources to sustain our population and its concomitant development. Indeed, the Register’s perfunctory and wrong-headed reasoning that Poseidon’s desalinated water is necessary for future human population growth only underscores the need for a wholesale change in our relationship to our environment, rather than desperately seeking new ways to dominate it for our own unrestrained expansion.
As John Earl notes on the Surf City Voice website:
“The OCWD, which manages the Santa Ana River groundwater basin, provides about 65 percent of the drinking water for 19 municipal water agencies in central and northern Orange County. Until recently, the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), which retails imported water to 28 water agencies throughout the county, was the front agency for pushing the Poseidon project.”
Mr. Earl further notes that “Poseidon’s customers would be required to purchase all of its water every year, regardless of whether they need it or not—the kind of ocean desal contract that has brought extreme financial hardship for ratepayers in Australia.”
Since her appointment last year, Fullerton’s Jan Flory has been admirably outspoken in her objections to OCWD members discussing critical issues in subcommittee meetings instead of full board meetings and in her proposal that OCWD’s full meetings be live-streamed for remote viewers.
Ms. Flory should extend her concerns for responsibly representing the ratepayers of Orange County by opposing any deal with Poseidon Resources. We don’t need to be involved in a boondoggle scheme to purchase overpriced desalinated water from a private company when we should instead be focusing on learning to live with the water we have.