State officials pushing for construction of Carlsbad Desalination Project

Feb. 11, 2009
Poseidon Resources released written testimony to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) from Governor Schwarzenegger and administration officials, and other state and local government officials encouraging the Regional Board to issue its final approval to the Carlsbad Desalination Project when it meets on February 11, 2009...

• Final permit hearing scheduled for Feb 11th; plant construction to follow

CARLSBAD, CA, Feb. 9, 2009 -- Poseidon Resources released written testimony to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) from Governor Schwarzenegger and administration officials, and other state and local government officials encouraging the Regional Board to issue its final approval to the Carlsbad Desalination Project when it meets on February 11, 2009.

The upcoming Regional Board hearing marks the regulatory agency's third public hearing on the desalination project in the past three years. This week, the Regional Board will consider final approval of the project's Marine Life Mitigation Plan (MLMP). The plan was initiated by the Regional Board in April 2008 and approved this past August by the California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission. Regional Board approval of the project's MLMP will enable plant construction to start this summer.

State and local elected officials including Governor Schwarzenegger, California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Linda Adams, Department of Fish and Game Director Donald Koch, Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G Kawamura, Natural Resources Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman, Coastal Commissioner, San Diego City Council President Ben Hueso and dozens of other local public officials and water agencies have written the Regional Board urging approval of the project's MLMP (letters attached).

>> Copies of all the public comments on the desalination project

"The support for the desalination project and its Marine Life Mitigation Plan from Governor Schwarzenegger, administration officials, local officials and San Diego public water agencies has been outstanding," said Poseidon Resources Senior Vice President Peter MacLaggan. "This support is a reflection of the quality of the project and its marine life mitigation plan as well as the need for San Diego to reduce its dependence on important water," said MacLaggan.

"With each passing day, the impact of the drought on the state's water supply becomes more pronounced," said San Diego County Water Authority Director and Valley Center Municipal Water District General Manager Gary Arant. "The San Diego region will take a dramatic reduction in its imported water supplies from the State Water Project allocation in 2009. Our agricultural industry has been severely impacted, farms and jobs have been lost, and water rationing for all customers is anticipated this summer. We needed the Carlsbad Desalination Plant to be online yesterday."

On April 9, 2008, almost two years after the Regional Board voted unanimously to approve a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for Carlsbad Desalination Project, the Regional Board conditionally approved (Resolution No. R9-2008-039) the project's Flow, Entrainment and Impingement Minimization Plan. The plan required Poseidon to submit a Marine Life Mitigation Plan to the Regional Board at a later date.

The MLMP is a performance-based plan for restoration of 55.4 acres of marine wetlands modeled after the Coastal Commission's success with the wetlands mitigation program for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Elements of the plan include:
• 11 pre-approved candidate mitigation sites;
• Minimum standards, objectives and requirements for final mitigation site selection;
• Enforceable schedule for completion of site selection (nine months); environmental review and permitting (24 months); start of construction (six months after approval of the permits);
• Objective performance criteria for measuring success of the project - within five years of the start of construction, the constructed wetlands must match habitat values (e.g., biological communities, vegetation, reproductive success, food chain support, density of fish, birds and habitat) within 95% confidence level for four undisturbed wetlands identified by in the MLMP;
• Budget for monitoring and management that includes funding for administration, review and oversight by the Coastal Commission staff and the Commission's Marine Science Advisory Panel;
• Monitoring data is to be made available for public review via the internet;
• The Coastal Commission will receive annual written project status reports and convene periodic public hearings to assess progress and success of the project;
• Authorizes the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission to order remediation to make up in any deficiencies in achieving the performance criteria;
• Extremely conservative methodology used by the Marine Science Advisory Panel to arrive at the 55.4 acreage requirement resulted in approximately 50% increase in acreage over the methodology typically relied on by the California Energy Commission;
• Various approvals (e.g., site selection, performance, and remediation) by the Executive Director of the Coastal Commission; and
• Once it is approved by the Regional Board, the MLMP would by equally enforceable by the Regional Board's Executive Officer.

"The Marine Life Mitigation Plan was prepared through an interagency process, as directed by the Regional Board, and led to the plan's approval by the Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission," said MacLaggan. "The plan provides for specific mitigation alternatives with enforceable performance standards. We believe the plan meets the requirements of the Regional Board's April 2008 resolution and fully expect we will be able to start plant construction this summer after the Regional Board issues its final approval of the plan this week."

Poseidon Resources specializes in developing and financing water infrastructure projects, primarily seawater desalination and water treatment plants. These projects are implemented through innovative public-private partnerships in which private enterprise assumes the developmental and financial risks.

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