Desalination project clears legal hurdle

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SAN DIEGO, CA, June 24, 2011 -- The California Superior Court has upheld the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board's most recent approval of the Carlsbad Desalination Project, ending years of legal challenges filed against the project.

Between 2006 and 2009, thirteen legal challenges -- eight lawsuits and five permit appeals -- were filed against the project. This latest ruling by Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes resolves the last of them.

In the lawsuit, the Surfrider Foundation alleged that the project did not comply with California Water Code Section 13142.5(b), which requires new industrial facilities using seawater for processing to use the best available site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible to avoid the intake and mortality of marine life.

In issuing her judgment, Judge Hayes ruled that the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board properly applied state law, and that "Water Code Section 13142.5(b) does not prohibit the implementation of restorative mitigation measures when considering a project's best available, site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible." Judge Hayes' ruling went on to say, "The plain language of the Section 13142.5(b) provides that mitigation measures, together with the best available site, design and technology will be used for each new coastal industrial plant." Judge Hayes also ruled that the Federal Clean Water Act Section 316(b) does not apply to desalination plants as originally asserted by Surfrider.

"We appreciate the Court's thoughtful consideration of the record built by the project over the past decade," said Poseidon Resources' Senior Vice President Peter MacLaggan. "The ruling is definitive and is the latest independent determination that the project complies with all applicable state and federal environmental laws," said MacLaggan.

Phase I of the Carlsbad Desalination Project construction was initiated in November 2009 and Phase II will commence after project financing is completed later this year.

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