With water supply concerns still fresh following California’s severe drought, top Democrats in the state are lining up behind a controversial ocean desalination plant in Orange County that would convert seawater into freshwater.
State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was the latest to back the Huntington Beach project this week. He joins U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and others in support, according to a press release from Mercury Public Affairs, a pubic relations firm for the project.
Environmental groups, however, continue to say this kind of desalination project is wrong for California, even after the state put more stringent standards in place. Sean Bothwell of the California Coastkeeper Alliance says a lot of wildlife would end up dead.
When a project this size takes in millions of gallons of water a day, it’s taking in fish larvae and other marine life and essentially is killed through the desalination process,” Bothwell says.
Bothwell suggested smaller desalination plants, such as one proposed in Monterey, are less costly for ratepayers and place less strain on marine life.
The Orange County project must clear several hurdles before the California Coastal Commission votes on it later this year or next.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Sen. Kamala Harris as supporting the Huntington Beach project. Harris was not listed among the politicians backing the project on a press release by Mercury Public Affairs. Capital Public Radio has reached out to Harris' office to ask for her position on the project and will update this article when it hears back.