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California Briefing / CARLSBAD

Desalination plant gets OK

August 07, 2008|Tony Perry

The California Coastal Commission voted Wednesday to approve a controversial $300-million proposal to build a desalination plant at the Encina power plant next to the beach in Carlsbad.

"I think it's time to move forward, to take decisive action, " said commission Chairman Patrick Kruer.

The desalination plant, to be built by Poseidon Resources Corp. of Stamford, Conn., is designed to produce up to 50 million gallons of fresh water each day, which would be 9% of San Diego County's usage. Promoters would like to begin construction immediately and have targeted 2011 for completion.

The proposal was backed by seven local mayors but opposed by several environmental groups and San Diego City Atty. Michael Aguirre. Aguirre, at the commission's meeting in Oceanside, sided with critics who say the amount of fresh water that would be provided is outweighed by the damage to marine life; he suggested greater use of water reclamation.

The commission tentatively approved the project in November but with 22 conditions that involved finding ways to minimize damage to fish and plants and to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the desalination process. A majority of commissioners agreed, in a series of votes, that the company had satisfied the conditions.

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