San Diego Rejects Desalination Plant For Now

The San Diego County Water Authority suspended negotiations with a Connecticut-based company to build a $270 million desalination plant here after a similar project handled by the company in Florida encountered problems, including contractor bankruptcy and higher than projected operating costs.

Poseidon Resources failed to secure the funding it promised to convert sea water into drinking water at a Tampa, Fla., plant, forcing the regional water authority to sell public bonds and take financial control of the project.

The plant was completed five months later than scheduled and processed less water than promised, the authority said.

An agreement between Tampa water officials and Poseidon prohibited the local water authority from reviewing project data, which could have prevented the plant's development problems, Tampa officials said.

Poseidon pursued the same agreement for the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, Calif., which caused the San Diego Water Authority to reconsider the proposal, San Diego water representatives said.

Problems with the Tampa plant occurred after Poseidon left the project, according to company officials.

San Diego officials want to wait for a resolution to the Tampa situation before they commit to work with Poseidon. If necessary, the county will move ahead with the desalination project on its own, said Ken Weinberg, a spokesman for the authority.


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