Anyone who has stepped outside in the past year has undoubtedly seen the effects of our state’s historic drought conditions. News coverage has shown pictures of empty reservoirs, dry wells and brown, arid landscapes across California. While there is some question of when it may subside, the reality is that we are facing a second straight year of record low rainfall and snowpacks and may face a decade or longer of serious drought conditions across California.
Communities across Southern California have tried to do their part, reducing domestic water usage and encouraging other water conservation efforts. However, reducing water usage alone cannot meet the need for future Californians and does nothing to ensure that our future water supplies are stable and reliable.
While the state has had serious discussions regarding what action should be taken to address the drought conditions, a number of local communities have stepped forward to take definitive action to solve their water woes.
Rather than rely on the state to step forward and provide an answer, Californians have yet again used innovation and outside-the-box thinking to find a solution to one of our most serious, pressing problems. Southern California communities have rallied behind desalinated ocean water as a reliable, safe and environmentally friendly solution to long-term water shortages.
Nearly completed and supplying the San Diego County Water Authority, a single desalination facility in Carlsbad will end up providing 50 million gallons of clean drinking water a day to San Diego-area residents. That kind of forward thinking and local action should be how we continue to find regional solutions to the problems pressing our state.
Santa Barbara, which had mothballed its own desalination facility, is now in the process of moving forward with bringing it back online to provide an additional drinking water resource for its residents.
Orange County now has the opportunity to determine its own fate. The city of Huntington Beach has been working on building its own desalination facility that would supply drinking water across the Orange County Water District. With the support of local leaders, this new facility will change how Orange County provides drinking water to its residents and reduce reliance on water sources that can change month-to-month. In addition, Poseidon Water, the company behind the project, has done a good job to mitigate any adverse environmental side effects from the facility.
While the California Coastal Commission meets this week in San Diego, I am hopeful that its members will see the Huntington Beach desalination project as an opportunity that will benefit all Californians while maintaining the environmental balance of our coast. In fact, experts have extensively studied this issue and determined that the desalination facility can even use the existing intake infrastructure from the adjacent power plant without any significant harm to marine life.
Thus, I strongly support the Huntington Beach desalination facility and call on the commissioners to move forward with the project as soon as possible. We have an opportunity to create a local, independent source for drinking water, which is not only drought-proof but will benefit generations of residents.
Desalinated water makes sense for coastal California cities, especially for those in Southern California. The Huntington Beach project is a key component to the region declaring its independence from drought conditions and reducing its dependence on statewide water sources. For our cities, our future and the environment, I encourage the commission to support it as well.