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Petition To Review Permit For Carlsbad Desal Plant Dismissed

The California State Water Resources Control Board has dismissed a petition from two environmental groups -- San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation -- to review a Regional Board permit for the Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

The groups challenged the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board's May 2009 approval of Poseidon's Marine Life Mitigation Plan for the Carlsbad Desalination Project.

The Marine Life Mitigation Plan is a condition to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued to the project by the Regional Board in 2006.

In denying the appeal, the State Board upheld the Regional Board's determination that the Carlsbad Desalination Project is in compliance with California Water Code Section 13142.5(b) by utilizing the best available site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible to minimize the intake and mortality of all forms of marine life.

Poseidon Resources Vice President Scott Maloni says the dismissal concluded the latest petition "failed to raise any substantial issues appropriate for review by the board."

"Poseidon Resources is pleased the State Board has denied yet another politically-motivated attempt to stop seawater desalination from becoming a part of California's drinking water supply," said Maloni in a news release. "After spending the better part of the past decade successfully permitting the state's first large-scale seawater desalination plant, construction of the Carlsbad project has started and the inevitable completion of the plant cannot be derailed by opponents of seawater desalination."

Gabe Solmer with San Diego Coastkeeper said the group is currently providing comments on the State Board's once-through-cooling policy and evaluating the State Board's dismissal for possible future action.

"The State Water Board's position on once-through-cooling technology is in direct conflict with its decision to decline to hear an appeal of the Carlsbad plant," said Solmer. "Unfortunately, the political pressure to approve the project has been so great; common sense has been dismissed along with the petition to review this flawed and incomplete permit."

Phase I of project construction started in November 2009. The facility is scheduled to be operational by 2012.

The desalination plant would have the capacity to produce 50 million gallons per day of drinking water, or enough for 300,000 residents annually.

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