California Court Upholds Approval of Carlsbad Desalination Project
Ruling brings an end to project’s legal challenges
Poseidon Resources announced last week that the California Superior Court has upheld the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s most recent approval of the Carlsbad Desalination Project, bringing to an end the legal challenges filed against it.
Between 2006 and 2009, San Diego Chapters of Surfrider Foundation and Coatskeeper filed 13 legal challenges—eight lawsuits and five permit appeals. Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes’ ruling resolves the last outstanding legal challenge against the project.
In the lawsuit, Surfrider alleged that the project did not comply with California Water Code Section 13142.5(b), which requires new industrial facilities using seawater for processing to use the best available site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible to avoid the intake and mortality of marine life.
In issuing her judgment, Hayes ruled that the board properly applied state law, and that the code does not “prohibit the implementation of restorative mitigation measures when considering a project’s best available, site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible. The plain language of the [section] provides that mitigation measures, together with the best available site, design and technology will be used for each new coastal industrial plant.”
Hayes also ruled that the Federal Clean Water Act Section 316(b) does not apply to desalination plants as originally asserted by Surfrider.
The project underwent approximately 20 public hearings with more than 80 hours of public testimony and deliberation over a seven-year permitting period that started in 2003. Each and every one of the state’s environmental permitting and regulatory agencies that reviewed the project approved it.