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The city of Carlsbad’s Planning Commission unanimously (6-0) recommended City Council approval of certification of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and local land use permits for the Carlsbad desalination plant being developed by Poseidon Resources Corp. in California. The EIR and related land use permits are scheduled for review and action by the City Council next month.
The desalination project’s environmental review process commenced in May 2004 and has benefited from significant public input and involvement. “The city of Carlsbad has done an excellent job of examining every facet of this project down to the very last conceivable environmental impact,” said Peter MacLaggan, senior vice president for Poseidon Resources. “It has been a lengthy and inclusive process, and it’s been very gratifying to watch the community support for the project build over time,” he said.
In approving the desalination plant’s EIR, the Planning Commission concluded there are no significant, unavoidable impacts for both the construction and ongoing operation of the plant related to 13 different areas studied including noise, traffic, growth-inducement, air and water quality, land use, public utilities and natural resources. The EIR was independently prepared for the city of Carlsbad by consulting firm Dudek & Associates, Inc.
The hearing drew a large crowd, with the vast majority of attendees testifying in support of the EIR’s conclusions and the public-private partnership to build the desalination plant. Those in support who attended the hearing included the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, the San Diego County Farm Bureau, representatives of the biotechnology and labor communities and several dozen citizens of Carlsbad.
“We support the efforts made by the city of Carlsbad and Poseidon Resources to develop new potable water supplies—at no financial risk to taxpayers,” said San Diego County Taxpayers Executive Director Lani Lutar. “The EIR confirms the project will be environmentally safe, and the public-private partnership will generate revenues for local governments including $2.4 million in property tax per year for the next 30 years, and $10.4 million in sales tax during construction, and $2.9 million per year thereafter,” Lutar said.
Poseidon has been working with the city of Carlsbad since 1998 on a public-private partnership to construct a 50-mgd plant at the site of the Encina Power Station. The plant is scheduled to be completed by 2009, and will produce enough drinking water to serve 300,000 residents annually. “A reliable and affordable supply of water is critical to San Diego County’s agricultural industry, which is the region’s fifth largest industry and the 12th largest farm economy in the nation,” said Farm Bureau Executive Director Eric Larson. “Poseidon’s desalination plant will create a local source of high-quality drinking water and take environmental pressure of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as well as the Colorado River.”
In October 2004, Poseidon and the city of Carlsbad entered into a water purchase agreement that provides Carlsbad with a high-quality, locally-controlled, drought-proof supply of water. Under the agreement, Poseidon will provide the City of Carlsbad with its entire daily requirement for water, up to 25 mgd, and assume all risks and responsibility for the financing, development, construction and operation of the project. Previously, the Metropolitan Water District approved a $250 per acre-ft desalination incentive for the Carlsbad project to supply the desalinated water in lieu of imported water. As a result, Carlsbad is able to achieve its water reliability and water quality goals at a cost that will never exceed what it would otherwise pay to purchase imported water.