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State Agency Considers Desalination Restoration Proposal

Proposal Hinges on South Bay Power Plant Closure

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Aired 10/15/10

The California Coastal Commission will consider approving a plan to offset the killing of marine life from a desalination plant in Carlsbad. Poseidon Resources wants to restore a wetland in South San Diego County, but the plan hinges on the South Bay Power Plant closing.

The California Coastal Commission will consider approving a plan to offset the killing of marine life from a desalination plant in Carlsbad. Poseidon Resources wants to restore a wetland in South San Diego County, but the plan hinges on the South Bay Power Plant closing.

The South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista is set to be demolished, after shutting down operations earlier this year.
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Above: The South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista is set to be demolished, after shutting down operations earlier this year.

As a condition of getting Coastal Commission approval to build the desal plant, Poseidon Resources is required to restore another site.

The intake pipes at the Carlsbad desalination plant will kill marine life.

Poseidon Resources proposes to restore a wetland area in the Otay River Floodplain in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. It's an area where the river meets the estuary.

But Joe Geever with the Surfrider Foundation said there's a problem with the plan.

"The whole purpose of doing this wetlands restoration is to restore the fish that are killed in the desal plant,” said Geever. “But any fish that would come out of this mitigation project would just be exposed to the same kind of mortality by being sucked into the South Bay Power Plant."

The Coastal Commission staff recommendation states that the Poseidon proposal is acceptable only if the intake and outfall pipes at the South Bay Power Plant cease operation.

Environmental groups and many Chula Vista elected officials have called for the South Bay Power Plant to be shut down so the waterfront can be developed.

But Dynegy Inc., the operators of the plant, have been granted a permit to continue operating the facility through the end of 2011.

Geever said it’s not certain if that will mean the end of the plant’s operation.

"We hope that the state board sticks to the deadline but [Dynegy, Inc. is] asking for a five-year extension, so we don't know the answer to that yet," said Geever.

It's not known whether the Poseidon restoration plan would speed up the scheduled shut down of the South Bay Power Plant or play a role in any future requests by Dynegy, Inc. to extend the operating permit.

The Coastal Commission meeting starts Friday, Oct. 15, at 8 a.m. in Oceanside.

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