California Coastal Commission rejects final approval of desalination plant in Huntington Beach

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A state panel has rejected final approval of a controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach, a project that had been in the works for two decades.

The California Coastal Commission on Thursday voted unanimously against approving a permit for a Poseidon Water desalination facility, which would've been built near the Pacific Coast Highway and Magnolia Street.

Poseidon Water said the project would've provided 50 million gallons of drinking water for Orange County residents every day by using reverse osmosis to remove the salt from ocean water.

As the leader of a state under severe drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom supported the project. But at Thursday's commission meeting, many spoke out against it.

"This is one of the worst project locations that desal could happen in the entire state," one person said before the commission.

Some environmental groups said it would harm the ocean and marine life, while some on the commission felt alternate plans would be better.

"Orange County has since been remarkably successful in developing additional supplies of water, most notably through its groundwater replenishment system which provides more than 100 million gallons of water each day for the region," said the coastal commission's Tom Lester.

D.J. Moore, an attorney representing Poseidon Water, advocated for the project during the meeting, saying "The need for this project is critical and without question. California is at an inflection point on water."

In a statement, Poseidon Water said it was not the decision they were hoping for, adding that the project "would have created a sustainable, drought-tolerant source of water for Orange County, just as it has for San Diego County."

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