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Another Legal Challenge Over Carlsbad Desalination Plant

The Surfrider Foundation filed a lawsuit Thursday against the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The suit challenges a permit that allows Poseidon Resources to withdraw 300 million gallons of seawater per day for the company's desalination plant in Carlsbad.

The complaint alleges that the plant must strictly comply with the California Water Code to minimize the intake and mortality of marine life.

Joe Geever with Surfrider said that as proposed, the desalination facility would kill countless marine organisms. He said a plan to replace these fish and other marine life through a restoration project somewhere else is not legal.

Geever said at issue is the use of the cooling water intake system used at the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad. The desalination plant would use that system.

The "once-through cooling" systems are being phased-out as new technology is more effective and kills fewer marine organisms.

California's State Water Resources Control Board is working on a new statewide policy on cooling intakes.

Scott Maloni with Poseidon Resources said this lawsuit is the 13th legal challenge (six permit appeals and seven lawsuits) involving the desalination project. He said 10 of those challenges have been rejected.

"This latest lawsuit is irrelevant to the financing and construction of the project," Maloni told KPBS News.

When completed in a few years, the desalination plant is expected to produce more than 50 million gallons of drinking water a day.

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