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Carlsbad Desalination Plant Gets OK


 The California Coastal Commission approved construction of a desalination plant in Carlsbad. The project still faces at least one more hurdle. KPBS Environmental  Reporter Ed Joyce has more.

After ten years Poseidon Resources is a step closer to building the largest desalination plant in the country.

The company says it would turn seawater into 50 million gallons of fresh water a day.

After hours of testimony and some slight changes, the coastal commission approved Poseidon's plans to offset greenhouse gas emissions and the potential harm to marine life.

Poseidon's Scott Maloni says the next hurdle is getting approval for a land lease from the state lands commission.


Maloni: If we're successful there and we believe we will be, we anticipate being able to break ground on the desalination plant the first half of 2009. So we should be producing water, putting it in the regional distribution system in 2011.

The state lands commission meeting is scheduled for August 22. Mark Massara is the coastal programs director for the Sierra Club.  He says the coastal commission is more concerned about saving Poseidon money rather than protecting the coast.

Massara called the decision corporate welfare. He also says it's bad news for marine life.


Massara: Poseidon's plan is all about ensuring they make a profit. The coastal commission's legal obligation is to ensure the health of the coast for future generations.


He says the desalinaton plant will destroy millions of fish and do long-term damage to coastal fisheries.
Massara is also concerned about giving a private company control over water resources.

Environmental groups have indicated they may take legal action to block construction of the plant.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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