Saturday, January 30, 2010

Poseidon Lies: The Truth about Poseidon Resources' “Carbon Neutrality”, Part 2

Yesterday, we gave you the background on how Poseidon Resources calculated their carbon neutrality  which we think is a bunch of baloney.

Today we continue with our Burden of Proof.  We have to prove that Poseidon Resources:
  • gave the Commission inaccurate or erroneous information;
  • they did it intentionally; and
  • if the Commission had the accurate information, they would have changed the permit.
We think the 2005 subsidy contract language provides all the answers for the Commission to find these elements.

1.    Inaccurate and erroneous information?
In effect, Poseidon Resources admits that they can’t guarantee the water they produce will replace Delta water imported to the region – even though that is the assumption in the GHG mitigation calculation. What they argue instead is that the MWD contract ensures that their water replaces imported water to the 9 customer agencies Poseidon will serve.
They then argue that, even though the net calculation is in fact erroneous and inaccurate, it makes sense to do it this way because the other agencies in the region that will get the excess water made available by their project should have to pay for the GHG mitigation.

There’s several problems with that argument:
a)    the record of the approval of this permit refers to, “replacing water to the region,” repeatedly (even though it also refers to replacing water to the 9 agencies repeatedly too). The condition of approval (the GHG mitigation plan,) assumes a complete subtraction of the energy to move the water to southern California from the Delta. A reasonable person could only conclude that the Commission thought they were replacing that imported water (and eliminating the embedded energy in the imported water). The contract clearly shows that is wrong!
b)    Poseidon then says that the agencies who receive the excess water, (remember, the contract requires that the water augment current supplies,) should be responsible for mitigating the additional GHG emissions Poseidon caused – not Poseidon. According to them, to do otherwise would be double counting the GHG emissions and the costs of mitigation. BUT – the Commission shouldn’t forget that the contract between MWD and SDCWA on Poseidon’s behalf is PAYING for the water to be produced. If there is any double counting here it is that Poseidon gets water agencies all over southern California to subsidize their production costs (including the GHG mitigation,) and then turns around and tells those agencies that already contributed to the cost of production (including the GHG mitigation costs) that they will have to pay again to mitigate the GHG emissions because Poseidon refused to do it. REALLY? Would a reasonable person believe that the member agencies of MWD agreed to pay for GHG mitigation from this project if they get the excess water the project makes available? Or did they think that their contribution ALREADY paid to make that water available to them at the price they currently pay?
Also, because the supply from the Delta is not “new” and MWD already has rights to import that water, it is not a reasonable assumption that the agencies who would receive this water would ever be required to mitigate the GHG emissions from pumping it all that way. If it’s not a new action by MWD, there would be no review of the environmental impacts.
c)    We think it’s clear in the terms of the contract that the REAL net GHG emissions will never be mitigated. We also believe it is clear that the agencies contributing to the rebate contemplated in the 2005 draft contract would not have agreed to it if they thought it meant they would have to pay for GHG mitigation when they received the benefits of contributing to the subsidy. That’s just common sense – what any reasonable person would conclude.

2.    Intentionally submitted?
Of course Poseidon intentionally withheld the draft MWD contract. It would have drawn much more scrutiny, if not completely undermined, their proposed GHG net mitigation assumptions and calculations. They even promised to submit a copy of it to the Commission staff at one point – and then changed their mind and promised only a letter from MWD summarizing that the water would replace current supplies.
The issue about the GHG emissions, and the proper mitigation, was rigorously debated. The 2005 draft contract would have been an important part of that debate had Poseidon made it available to the Commission and the public. They didn’t. And any reasonable person would have to conclude they withheld this relevant information because, as we know now, it undermines their argument. Or, if you think of it another way, why would Poseidon decide (after promising to give the Commission the draft subsidy contract) to withhold this information if it wasn’t to their disadvantage?

3.    Change to the permit?
This one is easy. The withheld information created an erroneous and inaccurate net GHG mitigation plan. Had the Commissioners known that a majority of the net mitigation was actually just marginal replacement of occasional transfers, they surely would have required a more thorough calculation. And had they known that Poseidon’s argument was that the real mitigation would fall on unsuspecting water agencies throughout southern California (agencies that aren’t required to mitigate the harm) – they surely would have conditioned the permit with some assurances that mandatory mitigation would actually come to fruition.

There's more to come.  Stay tuned for our request which we'll post on Monday....

- Update: here is the final in this series. 

IPR Discussion at the SurfriderSD January Chapter Meeting

Surfrider welcomed Marsi Steirer, Deputy Director of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, to talk about the Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) Demonstration Project. The City is undertaking the pilot project in the hopes of reducing our dependence on imported water and decreasing the treated wastewater that is offloaded in the ocean. The SurfriderSD Chapter Meeting was held on January 20th at Forum Hall in UTC. Click Here for the next SurfriderSD Chapter Meeting.

SurfriderSD January Chapter Meeting from Surfrider Foundation San Diego C on Vimeo.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Poseidon Lies: The Truth about Poseidon Resources' “Carbon Neutrality” Part 1

Our coast and oceans are threatened by global warming. Ocean acidification and sea level rise are ALREADY impacting the bounty of marine life, eroding our beaches, and threatening our local water supplies from seawater intrusion – among a host of other threats. California has committed to reverse this trend – and we should be proud of our State for stepping up and doing the right thing. But talk is cheap. Actually addressing the cause of global warming and all the adverse impacts it will have on a healthy environment and sustainable economy takes action. NOW IS THE TIME!

Poseidon Resources is proposing to build the largest ocean desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere in Carlsbad, California. This facility will require an enormous amount of energy to operate. So, as part of the State’s approval of the project, they are required to ensure the project is “carbon neutral” – Poseidon is required to mitigate the greenhouse gases the plant will create through the enormous energy demand. They aren’t living up to that requirement.

We are arguing that Poseidon intentionally withheld information that resulted in an erroneous greenhouse gas mitigation condition in their Coastal Development Permit that was issued in 2007. That information was contained in a draft contract between San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) and the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) that was available to Poseidon in 2005.

As part of the permit, the Coastal Commission required Poseidon to offset the greenhouse gases that would result from such an energy intensive project. In response, Poseidon calculated their “net” emissions by arguing that the water they produced would “replace” water being imported to the San Diego region from the Sacramento Delta. Poseidon then calculated the energy demand from their ocean desal facility, and subtracted the energy it would take to pump water all the way from the Delta – their proposed “net” energy demand. Then they took that energy demand (the total energy demand of the facility, minus the energy to pump the water that was arguably being “replaced”) and calculated how much “net” greenhouse gasses would be emitted to produce the water.

We discovered after the permit was issued (2007) that SDCWA had entered into a draft contract in 2005 to get subsidy funding from MWD to offset some of the costs of this project. That subsidy comes from a pool of money contributed to MWD by water supply agencies all over the southern California region.
The contract made it clear that the Poseidon project WOULD NOT replace water being pumped from the Delta. The draft contract specifically said the water had to “augment” MWD’s total supply portfolio (not “replace” part of it). It was also explicit in the terms of the draft contract that MWD would retain all it’s rights to the Delta water – and use them.

Since we filed the Request for Revocation, the CCC has received a letter from SDCWA and MWD explaining that MWD will occasionally enter into agreements to “transfer” water rights – and the water Poseidon produces may replace the need to do that. Ironically, this just bolsters our argument that Poseidon’s product water will not “replace” regional supplies delivered from the Delta to southern California. Consequently, their “net” GHG calculation is wrong.

Poseidon argues that, even if the water only “replaces” demand from the 9 water agencies that will buy it, and the rest goes to other agencies in the region – the other agencies should have to mitigate the greenhouse gases the project creates. Poseidon argues that this mitigation by the other agencies (they don’t say who they are or how we would ever know they got the “extra” water) are mandated by CEQA to mitigate the GHG emissions – so making Poseidon do it now would result in “double counting.” We disagree.

Here's our proof.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wastewater Recycling (IPR) Study is a Go in San Diego!

Last night the City Council listened to the public attending a hearing to vote on moving forward on efforts to eventually provide a safe and reliable source of water to San Diego — what is called Indirect Potable Re-Use or IPR.

Surfrider Foundation members were there to support funding a study that is necessary before the City can implement IPR. A special thanks to Dillon Miner and the students at UCSD for coming out to support it also!

We fully support the City’s efforts to recycle wastewater that is currently dumped into the ocean. We think that the City would be wise to implement IPR as soon as possible. It will not only provide a safe and inexpensive new supply of water, but it can eventually eliminate the discharge from Point Loma Sewage Treatment facility — and the inevitable cost of upgrading that plant to modern standards.

There is no doubt that IPR can be done safely and cheaply. All we need to do is look to our neighboring county to the north. The Orange County Water District, in partnership with the Orange County Sanitation District, is currently recycling wastewater that would have otherwise been dumped in the ocean. They are saving energy, they are reducing pollution and they are providing residents drinking water that is more purified than the water we currently import from far away places. And it’s cheaper than any other water supply alternative available.

This Orange County project, called the Groundwater Replenishment System, is winning awards for innovative water management from around the world. It’s time for San Diego to aggressively follow their lead with our own “Reservoir Augmentation Project.” We applaud the City Council for taking this first step, and look forward to the following steps to modernize our out-dated water management system.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Interactive Watershed Website

Check out this cool interactive watershed page from the Nature Conservancy. It's a great prelude to Surfrider's Know your H2O - The Cycle of Insanity video that's coming this Spring.

5/12 Update: our film came out.  The Cycle of Insanity is here!  Please feel free to use show it to your friends, family, students, etc.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act

The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act (HR 4202) has been introduced by Representatives Edwards (MD), Carnagan (MO) and Driehaus (OH) into the House of Representatives. By funding and promoting both research and on-the-ground green projects, this bill will help protect and restore our water resources while providing Americans with thousands of green jobs, energy savings and better health and well-being.

Many of the current pollution problems we have with surface water quality are the direct result of too much pavement. Stormwater that runs off of our driveways, streets and parking lots carries all sorts of pollutants into our rivers, streams & eventually into the ocean. For many years running, polluted stormwater runoff has been the number one culprit behind beach closures and swimming advisories.

Low Impact Development (LID) and the use of Green Infrastructure, is a relatively new approach to urban planning that aims to maintain and restore the water cycle in developed watersheds. Green Infrastructure Best Management Practices (BMPs) are designed to infiltrate, filter, store and treat stormwater close to its source. Examples of green BMPs include natural buffer areas, green streets, green roofs, permeable pavements and various rainwater capturing technologies.

The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act proposes to establish Centers of Excellence for Green Infrastructure whose purposed will be to conduct research and to provide technical assistance to state and local governments. This bill will also establish a federal grant program to fund planning, construction & monitoring of Green Infrastructure projects. Special consideration for these grants will be given to low-income and communities with combined sewer systems. Additionally, this bill will establish a Green Infrastructure Program housed within the EPA's Office of Water. The full text of this bill can be read here.

Participate in the Surfrider's action alert and send your Representative a letter urging them to co-sponsor the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act. Just click here.

To learn more about Green Infrastructure visit EPA's website or the Surfrider Foundations Coastal A-Z on Low Impact Development.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Special request to show support for IPR in San Diego

Request: We have an opportunity next Tuesday night to support the efforts of this important project by showing up to the City Council meeting at 6pm.

Having a few folks with Surfrider caps and t-shirts would show council members we really want IPR as part of our local water supply.  We can also comment publicly at the beginning of the meeting in support of this.  All you have to do is fill out a speaker request, and say that you are from xyz neighborhood, and you support the IPR study.  Super easy.

When: Next Tues, 1/26, 6pm

 Where: City Council Meeting

202 C Street.  Item number is 334.

There are two agenda items at this meeting – this is the second one

 Here is a map.

Please let us know if you can make it, and thank you!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Ocean Outfall at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Despite the Delaware Chapter's best efforts the City of Rehoboth Beach, DE recently chose to pursue building a new ocean outfall to dispose of its wastewater. Meanwhile, the Chapter is continuing their campaign to build support for Land Based Application (LBA) of the wastewater instead. LBA would allow the water to be recaptured and used primarily on agricultural fields through spray irrigation.

Local media coverage of this issue follows. For more info on the Chapter's campaign, visit their website.

Delaware beaches: Ocean sewage plan stirs questions

Critics say Rehoboth outfall could affect water, deter tourists

The News Journal

When Jean Miller heard that Rehoboth Beach officials had decided to send their treated wastewater through a pipe into the ocean, it took her back to Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
Miller, of Wilmington, recalled standing on a resort balcony on Mexico's south Pacific coast. She looked out at the water and saw a yellow line, several yards off the beach, which she learned was the area's sewage being discharged on the outgoing tide.
For Rehoboth, she had one question: "I wonder what the cost is going to be ultimately?"
Each summer, the weekend population of Rehoboth Beach swells from 1,495 to 20,000, most drawn to the city's reputation for soft sand and clean water. Delaware typically scores high marks on ocean water quality from national environmental organizations and rarely are there advisories against swimming at any of the state's resort communities.
That's why some folks are questioning the city commissioners' unanimous decision to pipe treated waste into the ocean, replacing a system that has contributed to pollution problems in Rehoboth Bay.
Sen. George Bunting, D-Bethany Beach, said he was surprised the city would risk the possible impact on tourism to save on future sewerage rates.
"We've worked all these years to get them out of the bay," he said. "The issue is more about money than the science of it."
The long-term impact is impossible to gauge, said Russ Merritt, whose group -- the Delaware Chapter of the Surfriders -- opposed the plan.
"It may be a decision we don't know to regret yet," he said.
Dozens of municipalities safely use ocean outfalls along the Atlantic Coast and more often than not, they operate without problems. The wastewater is heavily treated, with solids removed and the liquid heavily disinfected before discharge -- often a mile or more off the coast, a scenario that is far different from what Miller witnessed in Mexico.
In New Jersey, there are 14 ocean outfalls from Sandy Hook south to Wildwood. Sussex County operates an ocean outfall at the south end of Bethany Beach, and Ocean City, Md., has an ocean outfall.
All operate with pollution discharge permits and must meet standards for the water that flows out the end of the pipe.
And on the West Coast, ocean outfalls have been a way of life for decades. Los Angeles, for instance, started dumping its waste into the Santa Monica Bay in the late 1800s and continued to dump the untreated waste through the 1920s until area residents began complaining about it.
Still, some places are beginning to rethink the old adage that "the solution to pollution is dilution."
In June 2008, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law legislation to ban new ocean outfalls and expansions of the existing ones in South Florida. The concern: the impact excessive nutrients have on marine life and a growing need to reuse water in the heavily populated region.
The six existing south Florida ocean sewer outfalls have until 2018 to significantly reduce nutrients coming from their pipes and must eliminate the outfalls entirely by 2025. Some 60 percent of the flow -- all told, 300 million gallons a day -- must be redirected to beneficial reuse.
In Massachusetts, officials with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority spent more than a decade in court to win permits for a new outfall that discharges through a 9 1/2-mile tunnel into 100 feet of water in Massachusetts Bay. Authority officials are required to do special monitoring as part of their permit to make sure the discharge doesn't impact endangered northern right whales, which are found seasonally in an area 16 miles away.
Any sewer system that discharges to a waterway is problematic, said Thomas P. Fote, with the Jersey Coast Anglers Association.
Industrial dischargers pretreat their waste to remove harmful chemicals, but that doesn't happen with the waste from homes, he said. People flush old prescription medications and household cleaners -- all substances that can cause significant problems in the aquatic environment -- and they linger.
"It's what's coming out of our homes," Fote said. "The drugs we take, the cleaners we use."
Estrogen in some medications is one example.
"We know it's affecting the sex lives of fish," he said.
Rehoboth's proposed outfall would be close to Hen & Chicken Shoals -- an essential fish habitat.
"That's where they are most vulnerable," he said of the area's fisheries.
But the bottom line, Fote said, is "no matter where you put it, it's going to have an impact. ... It's not an easy solution."
Still, Rehoboth officials believe the outfall can be operated safely and is the most cost-effective option. It also will allow the city to have control over future fees and rates. The area is so rich with groundwater that reuse really isn't an issue, according to Mayor Samuel Cooper. Besides, he said, state environmental officials haven't come up with a method or system that allows for beneficial reuse.
City Commissioner Dennis Barbour said his decision was prompted by the environment, the interests of the larger community outside Rehoboth, public perception and the fiscal impact on the citizens of Rehoboth.
Barbour said the other option -- to apply the treated waste to the land -- "does little, if anything, to address long-term environmental concerns about the health of the bay. I am convinced that wastewater disposed of in the ground will simply make its way back to the bay in due time, along with its harmful elements.
"On the other hand," he said, "I am equally convinced that current technologies ensure that ocean outfall will not have any significant, measurable negative environmental impact. I have expressed concern that science might one day identify harmful pathogens in wastewater, now unknown or unmeasurable, that may force us to abandon ocean outfall."
But, Barbour said, in the end he was satisfied that this concern was speculative.
At a hearing in November, the majority of city residents on hand supported the proposed ocean outfall as a less-costly alternative and one that gave city officials control over future costs and operations.
Much of the citizen opposition came from people who lived outside the city limits -- folks who worried about the potential for water quality problems both short- and long-range. Among the most vocal opponents: the local chapter of the Surfriders. More than 500 of their members nationwide sent e-mails to the city opposing the outfall plan.
In addition, the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce favored sending the wastewater inland, to be sprayed on land, rather than out to the ocean.
"It had nothing to do with safety or water quality," said Carol Everhart, president of the chamber. "It had everything to do with perception ... and a concern that it could lead to a loss of visitation."
Everhart said now that the decision has been made, chamber officials will work with the city to make sure the public is well-informed about the safety of the proposed outfall.
"That's our job now," she said. "If anything were to wash up on the beach ... you have to be prepared."
Rates will rise
The average city homeowner pays $325 a year in sewer fees. Under any of the alternatives city officials considered, sewer rates would rise. The range of price for the ocean outfall is $550 to $630 annually. The land application price range was $1,010 to $1,420.
Rehoboth is under a court order to alter its wastewater discharge. The city currently discharges into the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal a few hundred yards from Rehoboth Bay.
The city's treatment plant is considered a major source of the nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus that fuel algae growth in the bays. As the aquatic plants die and decompose, oxygen levels drop. When oxygen gets too low, fish die. The decomposition can also cause bad odors and a thick mat of seaweed. Some of the microorganisms can be toxic in high numbers. Under the court order, the city must stop discharging treated waste into the canal by December 2014.
Over the years, state environmental regulators have pressured the city to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the discharge, but environmental problems -- ranging from fish kills to algae blooms -- continue in the Inland Bays and their tributaries. And as Sussex County has worked to remove hundreds of failing septic systems from Dewey Beach and the north and west sides of Rehoboth Bay, and area farmers have taken steps to reduce their nitrogen and phosphorus runoffs, pressure has mounted on Rehoboth Beach.
With the ocean outfall option, it is likely the city could continue to use its current treatment plant. The city is routinely in compliance on bacteria standards, according to monitoring reports that the city files with the state.
Ironically, ocean outfalls are easier to permit under federal Clean Water Act standards than other wastewater treatment options, said James May, a professor of law and graduate engineering at Widener University.
May said that while the permits may be more difficult to obtain politically, they need only meet primary treatment standards -- technologies that date to the 1920s.
The idea is that the ocean is so big, any pollution is rapidly mixed in the ocean water column, he said.
Rehoboth has struggled with nitrogen and phosphorus at its current plant. But Sussex County's South Coastal Regional Treatment Plant -- which has an ocean outfall south of Bethany -- doesn't have a limit for nitrogen and phosphorus in its permit.
The idea, said Heather Sheridan, director of environmental services for Sussex County, is that there is so much mixing once the treated wastewater reaches the ocean, there is little need to worry about nitrogen and phosphorus levels.
A federal Environmental Protection Agency study that looked at environmental impacts of ocean sewer outfalls found there was no impact on fish. The scientists found that the "benthic community," the animals that live on the sea floor, had a dual impact from outfalls. During the winter, the population stayed the same. But in the summer, diversity in the community decreased while the number of remaining animals went up.
They found there was no difference in the water quality or the bottom sediments.
State's decision
It will be up to the state to decide whether to allow the discharge and what pollution limits it will impose on Rehoboth, May said.
"We'll be looking at national standards, our own water quality standards," said Kathy Bunting Howarth, state director of water resources. "It's not just a state permitting process. It's got to be federal as well."
The permitting likely will include the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others.
City officials plan to request funding next month for the project through the state's Clean Water Advisory Council.
Robert Stickels, the former Sussex County administrator who serves as Sussex County's representative on the state's infrastructure funding council, said he believes the city likely will qualify for a low-interest loan.
With the outfall, Rehoboth "is really making a long-term commitment," Stickels said.
Stickels, a former town manager in Georgetown, recalled his permit struggles as that town tried to get a discharge permit for a local tax ditch.
He said that although the county has a stellar operating record with its ocean outfall, the county has moved toward land-based treatment with the facilities it has built over the last 20 years. Rehoboth's steps, he noted, will be closely watched.
"Rehoboth's a financial jewel for Delaware," he said. "This decision is greater than the boundaries of their town limits."
Gerard Esposito, executive vice president of Tidewater Utilities and a former state director of water resources, said he is concerned that the costs of the options haven't been fully vetted and city leaders may find out that ocean outfall is more expensive than they think.
The cost estimates are based on historic information because "hardly anybody is building ocean outfalls anymore," said Esposito, whose company had proposed a public-private land-treatment option.
And the potential for delays -- if the city is challenged in court or runs into permitting issues, could make the cost rise as well, he said.
Rehoboth's consulting engineers, Stearns & Wheler LLC, say the highly treated effluent won't be a health or environmental problem.
They suggest that even in a worst-case scenario -- a situation in which there would be a power failure -- the outfall would be environmentally sound because with no power, pumps would fail to send wastewater to the outfall.
Dagsboro businessman and charter boat captain Paul Henninger said he couldn't see a down side to the resort city's decision on using an ocean outfall.
"Actually, I think it'll benefit the fishermen," Henninger said. "There's already a wastewater pipeline off Bethany. I have the coordinates. I fish there already, and sometimes the fishing is pretty good right there."
Henninger, who has sailed the 33-foot Amethyst on fishing runs from Indian River Inlet for 26 years, said nutrients from the pipe may make food chains in nearby waters slightly more productive and interesting to fish of all kinds.
Harry Haon, vice chairman of the state Sierra Club's Southern Delaware Group, said the environmental organization took no position on the issue, but also had not encountered widespread or strong opposition.
"We had concerns about the spray irrigation approach, and if we'd taken a vote, it probably would have been for ocean outfall, but we were never very active on that," Haon said.
Discharges to the ocean will be controlled by state and federal limits on pollutant concentrations in the pipeline, Haon said. Those same pollutants already have been discharged for years into the far more confined and vulnerable upper Rehoboth Bay.
"There's a long track record on ocean outfall being done successfully not only in Delaware, but in Maryland, Florida and elsewhere," Haon said.
While Rehoboth prepares to run the permitting gantlet, Gov. Jack Markell and his environmental secretary, Collin O'Mara, remain circumspect.
"We anticipate receiving a permit application and look forward to working with the city," O'Mara said, "so that our Inland Bays will benefit from reduced amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus and a new system meets our standards to protect public health and the environment."

Poseidon Resources’ Carlsbad Ocean Desalination Proposal: The Truth – and Nothing But the Truth

Here is the first of a series of blog posts to help the tax-payers, water agencies, policy makers, and interested parties understand one of the most ill-conceived projects in the history of Southern California: The Carlsbad Desalination Project, by Poseidon Resources. 

We hope you post comments, and ask questions so we can clarify and articulate our position as needed.  Thank you!

Poseidon Resources’ Carlsbad Ocean Desalination Proposal: The Truth – and Nothing But the Truth!

Poseidon Resources is a capital venture-type of corporation proposing to construct and operate the largest ocean desalination facility in the Western Hemisphere. This proposal has been under consideration for many years and the corporation has made numerous public relations claims over that period that, to date, have been misleading if not utterly false.

It is critical to the decisions of our elected representatives, government agencies with permitting authorities and duties, communities expecting to receive this product water, and communities affected by the facility itself that the truth be known.

We will be posting a series of reports into the claims Poseidon Resources has made to the public and scrutinizing them for their factual accuracy – or lack thereof.

The Truths discussed will include:

•    the project DOES NOT have final approval of the entitlements and permits;

•    the project IS NOT environmentally benign as Poseidon claims;
            - update: their claim of carbon neutrality is baloney 

•    the proposal IS NOT completely privately financed and DOES NOT offer the public benefits Poseidon claims;
 - update: the subsides they need from the Metropolitan Water District are in jeopardy 6/22/201

•    the assumption that diversity is beneficial in a water supply portfolio IS NOT an argument in favor of THIS project;

•    this proposed project IS NOT necessary. There are preferred alternatives to this project that offer multiple benefits and, if fully implemented, would alleviate the need for this expensive and unreliable proposal altogether;

•    the project WILL NOT lower water costs, despite all the subsidies and tax-exemptions, (there is no such thing as a free lunch);
- update: finally we are seeing this "investment" for what it is: a bad deal for rate-payers/tax-payers.

•    this project comes with a huge Buyer Beware sign for not only the water agencies and customers, but for any potential investor.

We will conclude the series with a summary of the dramatic shifts in the lack of truth Poseidon Resources has employed in their public relations and lobbying efforts over time – as well as an interesting correlated shift in growing opposition to the proposal. We will also compare ocean desalination proposals in California that have had relatively easy times getting approval, as well as support from public-interest groups – in stark contract to the Poseidon proposals in Carlsbad and Huntington Beach.

Check back repeatedly, or subscribe on the top right, as we attempt to clear away all the fog Poseidon Resources has created and let the light of Truth shine on this proposal.

Surfrider’ s response to Poseidon Resources lackey, Ted Owen.

Here is our response to the editorial "written" by Mr. Ted Owen in the NC Times.

By JOE GEEVER -- Surfrider Foundation

The Perspective article, "Enough is enough with desalination lawsuits," written by Ted Owens and published in your paper Jan. 10 contains enough offensive inaccuracies that it demands a response. It is unfortunate that Mr. Owen, rather than focusing his comments on what he sees as merits of the Poseidon proposal, or the actual reasons why the project continues to be scrutinized and challenged by our state regulatory agencies, instead resorts to personal attacks.

It is completely inaccurate to characterize the scope of opposition to the project as "two fringe environmental groups." Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper are local grassroots organizations that have taken a lead in challenging this proposal. But there is a growing coalition of organizations opposed to this poorly designed facility ---- ranging from water management policy institutions to organizations representing the fishing community to groups protecting public health to environmental organizations like ours. The scope of concerns over this project, and the organizations opposing it can hardly be described as "fringe".

Mr. Owen also characterizes us as "obstructionists" who are the cause of delays in the project's final approval.

First, we are opposed to this project for sound public policy reasons. But we are also advocates for meeting our local water needs through alternatives that are cheaper for ratepayers, reduce reliance on imported water and are sustainable from both an economical and environmental perspective ---- including advanced recycling and conservation.

These alternatives reduce pollution, costs and energy demand while ensuring a local and reliable future source of freshwater. This in stark contrast to ocean desalination which requires more energy than the current most energy-intensive water supply option in Southern California (pumping water from Northern California).

More to the point, the delays in final approval of the project are the result of Poseidon withholding information that was critical to a thorough analysis of the project prior to issuing the permits. Ironically, it is Poseidon's pattern of secrecy that has resulted in the latest round of re-consideration of the project's permits.

As new facts are revealed, it mandates reconsideration of prior approvals to ensure the integrity of the approval process.

Surfrider Foundation has attempted to bring facts and sound science to the deliberation of this project from the beginning. We will continue this effort until the public and our decision-makers have all the facts right so that the laws protecting our coast and ocean are fully enforced.

Mr. Owen is wrong that the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is simply a voluntary commitment by Poseidon out of the goodness of its heart. Global warming, sea levels rising and ocean acidification are all threats to our coast and ocean, and the California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission are mandated by law to protect against these threats.

Mr. Owen ventures into pure imagination and fantasy when he states, "... Surfrider abandoned its legal strategy when it determined that a significant number of its members did not agree with its position. ..."

We are a grassroots organization with local chapters nationwide. Our San Diego chapter has not "abandoned" anything. We continue to oppose this project, and we're simultaneously continuing our advocacy for preferred water management alternatives that meet our mission of restoring and protecting our coast and ocean.

Finally, Mr. Owen asserts that our efforts are aimed at undermining Poseidon's efforts to get government subsidies and finance the project through the sale of corporate bonds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Investors and the communities planning on this new supply of water should know that none of the permits or entitlements is final. Investments in the financial markets come with risks. We will leave it to individual investors to decide whether a project with so many outstanding "clouds" on the project entitlements is a wise use of their money.

Like Mr. Owen, we "look forward to getting on with the business of creating high-paying jobs and providing a reliable water supply."

We respectfully disagree that Southern California's water supply portfolio demands this project, and we will continue advocating for sound alternatives that provide multiple benefits like reducing wasted energy, pollution prevention and protection of marine life and healthy coasts and oceans. We also look forward to getting on with the state's efforts to restore and protect our precious marine life and reduce the multiple threats of climate change.

We hope Mr. Owen will join the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Coastkeeper and more than 40 other statewide groups to ensure we meet this critical goal.

JOE GEEVER is the California policy coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation based in San Clemente.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Poseidon desal’s spin machine has been working overtime!

We’re not sure if everyone caught it, but SDNN ran an editorial by Mr. Ted Owen at the Carslbad Chamber of Commerce basically attacking Surfrider and our friends at Coastkeeper on Sunday. One of the comments at the bottom pointed out that Poseidon paid for the letter. We haven’t seen a hard copy of the letter, but if that’s the case, the Poseidon spin machine is working overtime as usual.

Our friends at Coastkeeper responded today with the truth about the Poseidon Desalination project, and our chapter agrees with every point in it. Cheers, Coastkeeper!

And while we’re at it, we would just like to point out that we fully support our friends at CERF too. Mr. Owen speculates that our former attorney, founder of CERF, and Surfrider Foundation member, Mr. Gonzalez, is a ‘lonewolf’ and, “his legal conduct are why we parted ways with him”. This is simply nonsense and nothing more than a figment of Mr. Owen’s imagination. We respect the work of Mr. Gonzalez and Coastkeeper and remain committed partners in a growing coalition of organizations that have objections to the design and location of this proposed facility. As previously stated, we are committed to fighting this ill-conceived desalination project, and Mr. Gonzalez and his team are our colleagues and partners in this effort. We look forward to many joint projects in the future with CERF.

When we have time, we’ll take apart all of Mr. Owen’s speculations and misrepresentations to help him understand why the project he so desperately endorses is not a fit for San Diegans.

In short, not only is the protection of our coast and ocean important to the environment and the quality of life in our community – it is an equally important asset to local businesses. It seems ironic that the business community attracted to our region because of our beautiful coast and ocean would go to such extraordinary lengths to support a project that adversely impacts the very reason we live and work here. Our suspicion and hope is that Mr. Owen’s inflammatory and simply false personal attacks are not reflective of the larger business community.

We have engaged in a respectful debate about the merits of the project, and suggested superior alternatives for meeting the water needs of San Diegans. We will maintain that level of civility and refuse to be “baited” into personal attacks that distract from legitimate concerns about Poseidon’s proposed ocean desalination factory.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Surfrider San Diego is committed to fighting bad desalination projects like Poseidon

Recently the Surfrider Foundation removed ourselves from the State Lands Commission lawsuit regarding the Carlsbad desalination plant but we remain committed to the desalination campaign and feel our efforts can be better utilized elsewhere. Removing ourselves from the lawsuit is in no way an abandonment of the campaign or our partnership with San Diego Coastkeeper. We are simply reallocating resources to where they can do the most good. We, along with Coastkeeper are planning to divide the work on this important issue so we can be most effective in fighting against this desalination plant. Surfrider Foundation will continue advocating to improve marine life protection and fighting harmful desalination projects along the California coastline.

Instead of desalination, Surfrider advocates conservation efforts and recycling water to drinking standards. These two important steps should be taken before we go down the path to building desalination factories that cost the taxpayer more money, and contribute to climate change.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Desal and “Carbon”ated Water: Coastal Commission Should Make the Carlsbad Project Offset All of Its Carbon Impacts

Another great article that points out why Poseidon's proposed desalination factory is not the answer to San Diego's water supply needs. The important parts are in bold for your reading pleasure!

Coastal Commissioners: are you paying attention?

By Jonas Minton
Planning and Conservation League

Carbon emissions and water supply are two sides of the same coin. In California nearly 20 percent of our electrical energy is used to move water around the State, treat it for use and then treat it again for disposal.

All of that energy generation emits huge amounts of carbon to our atmosphere. So when Poseidon Corporation claims that its proposed desalination plant in Carlsbad will have a “zero carbon footprint” it may sound too good to be true. Well, that’s because it is.

In February the Coastal Commission will be reviewing the accuracy of information submitted by Poseidon for its permit to build the largest desalination facility in the Western Hemisphere in Carlsbad, California. The issue is Poseidon’s claimed CO2 offsets.

Ocean desalination is the most energy/carbon intensive way to provide water - even more than pumping water more than 400 miles all the way from Northern California, up over the Tehachapi Mountains and on to San Diego. Poseidon’s proposed ocean desalination plant would require 30 megawatts of generation. Producing this much energy would emit an additional 120,000 to 154,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year into our atmosphere.

Poseidon’s claim of carbon neutrality is a critical piece of their project for the Coastal Commission, which is charged with ensuring protection of California’s precious coast and marine environment from the multiple threats of climate change.

Now, the Coastal Commission staff and several public interest groups have uncovered evidence that the company’s carbon-neutral claim contradicts Poseidon’s agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Poseidon’s promise of a carbon neutral project, it turns out, is based on misrepresentations and Wall Street style math that just doesn’t add up.

In its permit application, Poseidon claimed that the desalted water they produce will “replace” water that would otherwise be delivered to the region from Northern California. By promising that its project would replace water pumped from the north, Poseidon was able to claim a large reduction in the plant’s “net” carbon footprint.

What the company withheld was that their financing contract with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California specifically disallows this replacement. Poseidon, it turns out, is claiming it can trade something it doesn’t have.

Metropolitan alone decides how much water it will pump from the north and it is protective of this right – so protective that it specified that the contract is void if Poseidon interferes with Metropolitan’s water rights or water deliveries from the north.

Metropolitan has stated publicly that it will pump as much water from Northern California as state and federal regulations allow. It is not going to reduce the amount of water that it is bringing down from Northern California based on what Poseidon produces or how much energy it uses. So Poseidon is using phony accounting to claim they will reduce their project’s greenhouse gas impact by “replacing” water that would otherwise be imported to the region.

The article appeared on California Progress Report, and can be viewed here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


No not that type... rain barrels! It's hard to think much about rain with the lovely spring-like weather we've been having lately, but eventually it will rain again and when it does we'll have the usual runoff, dirty water, bacteria, etc.

While we think of runoff coming mostly from our streets and parking lots, there's another impermeable surface out there that collectively accounts for hundreds of thousands of gallons of runoff water each year: rooftops. Every time it rains water runs off our roofs, down the gutters, into the street, and down our stormdrains collecting oil, bacteria, and other contaminants along the way.

There is an easy and attractive solution that not only reduces runoff pollution but stores that water for later use in the garden when things dry out again.

While an online search for rain barrels usually comes up with an array of industrial plastic barrels (usually blue), there are many materials that can be bought and/or customized to collect and save the water for future use. Recycled oak whiskey and wine barrels, glazed ceramic pottery, and hand painted recycled metal oil barrels are just a few ideas that are not only useful but make great focal points in the garden. Drill a few holes, add a spigot and a leaf screen and you can turn any of these containers into a working rain barrel.

For an even less industrial look, rather than hooking your rain barrel directly to a downspout, copper rain chains can be fixed to the roofline gutters to direct water into the barrel and give an even more decorative look to your water collection system.

For those wanting to get really serious about rainwater storage, you might consider installing a cistern (the underground type are least visually invasive) which uses a pump to distribute water and can save hundreds of gallons of rainwater at a time.

Check out for more resources and great information about rainwater harvesting and graywater around the country.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Come learn about IPR in San Diego at our Chapter Meeting 1/20.

Join us for a lively discussion on water, how fresh water intersects with Surfrider's mission, and more info on our Know Your H2O awareness program. Marsi Steirer, Deputy Director of the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, will be there to talk about the Indirect Potable Reuse (IPR) Demonstration Project. The City is undertaking the pilot project in the hopes of reducing our dependence on imported water and decreasing the treated wastewater that is offloaded in the ocean.

Visit ICarPool for carpools and check out for public transport options.

The City of San Diego is working to develop local solutions for future water supply reliability. They include the City of San Diego’s:

Recycled Water Program –
• Two water reclamation plants
• These plants treat wastewater to a level that is approved for irrigation, manufacturing and other non-drinking, or non-potable purposes. The North City Plant has the capability to treat 30 million gallons a day and the South Bay Plant can treat 15 million gallons a day. Recycled water gives San Diego a dependable, year-round, locally controlled water resource.

Indirect Potable Reuse/Reservoir Augmentation Demonstration Project -
• Evaluate the feasibility of using advanced water treatment on recycled water.
• Provide a locally-controlled drought-proof supply of high quality water to over half the region’s residents
• Increase recycled water use in the region
• Provide a supply of water with a smaller environmental footprint (including lower carbon emissions) than imported or desalinated water

Recycled Water Study -
• Identify opportunities to increase recycling of wastewater for potable and non-potable uses
• Determine implementation costs
• Determine the extent recycling can off-load the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant