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Archive for March, 2009

Part 2 of a series.

By John Earl
OC Voice

Huntington Beach City Councilmember Don Hansen reassured the public. “I’m actually pretty comfortable having a private company potentially evaluate the dedication of a source for our future water supply,” he said.

The Tampa Bay, Florida desalination plant: A series of failures and costly delays. Photo: www.treehuggers.org

The Tampa Bay, Florida desalination plant: A series of failures and costly delays. Photo: http://www.treehuggers.org

That was three years ago at a city council meeting when Hansen and three other council members, Cathy Green, Gil Coerper and Keith Bohr (now Mayor Bohr) voted to allow Poseidon Resources Inc. to build a desalination plant at the corner of Newland and Beach avenues in southeast Huntington Beach.

If all goes according to plan, the facility would convert 127 million gallons of seawater into 50 million gallons of fresh drinking water every day of the year.  The city would have the option of buying up to 3.5 million gallons of that water at a discount compared to the cost of imported water (two-thirds of the city’s water comes from ground wells, its cheapest source of water). The rest would be distributed throughout the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), in theory, to provide a guaranteed water source to help offset drought conditions in the state.

The plant still needs approval from the State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission and Poseidon still lacks the private and public financing needed to build and operate, although Poseidon officials say that all are forthcoming (see Part 1).

No matter if the Huntington Beach desalination plant fails, Bohr said, because the burden will be strictly Poseidon’s. “We’re not hiring Poseidon, so there’s no risk,” he told hundreds of people packed tightly into the city council chambers. “If it fails, it doesn’t cost us anything.”

But Poseidon’s facility in Tampa Bay, Florida, it’s first (and failed) attempt to build and operate a desalination plant,  is used by opponents to argue against building the Huntington Beach desalination plant.

The Tampa Bay desalination plant, about half the size of the one planned for Huntington Beach, has operated improperly  if at all since it opened in 2003. (more…)

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By Daniel C. Tsang
Special to the OC Voice

IN RECENT years Orange County has become widely known via television and other media portrayals as “The OC,” promoting perceptions of a largely homogeneous and wealthy “white” populace.

UCI Library continues the exhibit through early May in the lobby of the Main Library.

UCI continues the exhibit through late Aprl in the lobby of the Langson (main) Library.

In reality, the county has experienced dramatic demographic change in recent decades, largely due to the impact of immigrants from all over the world.

A new UC Irvine Libraries exhibit, which opened Nov. 18, depicts the lives of immigrants in southern California, with a focus on Orange County, from the late 19th century to the present. Topics include the legacy of an often turbulent past, the changing face of the population, the contemporary debate about immigration, and issues affecting immigrant workers. The exhibit also highlights immigrants’ own stories, the plight of the undocumented, public policy issues, and the role of gender in migration. Numerous books and papers written by UCI faculty authors are included.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the state’s immigrant population increased fivefold between 1970 and 2006, from 1.8 million to 9.9 million, including those who were naturalized as U.S. citizens. Today one in four Californians is an immigrant, a higher proportion than in any other state. Most are from Latin America or Asia.

In researching materials from the UCI Libraries’ collections for the exhibit, which I am curating, I realized it was a need for foreign labor that led to the first wave of immigrants to the United States from China. Chinese farm workers were hired by German settlers in Anaheim who needed laborers to cultivate grapes on their vineyards in the mid-19th Century. Asian American Studies scholar Patricia Lin notes that the Chinese were not only “expert grape growers and pickers, but they were used extensively in the construction of irrigation ditches, wine cellars, and casks.” One hundred twenty-five Chinese would later work to extend the Southern Pacific Railroad line from Los Angeles to Anaheim in 1873 and to Santa Ana in 1877.

By the 1890s, after Orange County broke off from Los Angeles County (in 1888), anti-Chinese feelings were running high, and shacks belonging to Chinese celery workers were burned down, as was the building of the Earl Fruit Company. (more…)

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By John Earl
OC Voice

(Part 1 of a series on desalination)

Poseidon Resources Inc. and the four Huntington Beach city council members who voted in 2006 to approve the company’s request to build a desalination plant in the city’s southeast section promised that the project would be paid for with private funds-at no cost to the city’s taxpayers.

L-R: Huntington Beach Councilmembers Don Hansen, (Mayor) Keith Bohr, Gil Coerper, Cathy Green.

L-R: Huntington Beach Councilmembers Don Hansen, (Mayor) Keith Bohr, Gil Coerper, Cathy Green.

But Poseidon, a multi-national equity investor and developer of privatized water systems, currently controlled by “zombie” bank, Citigroup (which is being bailed out by federal tax funds), could directly and indirectly benefit from $1 billion in public funds, about 70 percent of that courtesy of taxpayers in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties and the rest paid for by taxpayers across America through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law recently by President Barack Obama.

The subsidies would also be directed at a nearly identical Poseidon desalination plant in the city of Carlsbad and would help ensure but not guarantee that both plants are cost effective for Poseidon to build and to operate. Under the city approved plan, Poseidon would build the desalination plant in Huntington Beach next to the AES power generating station at Beach and Newland streets. Poseidon’s plant would suck in 127 million gallons of seawater per day through existing AES cooling pipes to create 50 million gallons of per day or 56,000 acre feet of drinking water each year.

Poseidon would sell 3.2 million gallons of converted seawater per day to the city, a small fraction of its total daily water usage from other source, at five percent less than it pays the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) for water. The other 47.8 million gallons per day would go to MWDOC’s member districts at government subsidized prices. Jobs would be created by the building and operation of the plant and the city’s tax base would go up, according to predictions made by Poseidon and city staff. (more…)

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From a press release by the Pacific Institute

IMPACTS OF SEA-LEVEL RISE THREATEN CALIFORNIA COAST:

New Report Assesses Risks to 480,000 People

OAKLAND, CALIF. – March 11, 2009 – In an analysis prepared for three California state agencies, the Pacific Institute estimates that 480,000 people; a wide range of critical infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, schools, and emergency facilities; vast areas of wetlands and other natural ecosystems; and nearly $100 billion in property along the California coast are at increased risk from flooding from a 1.4-meter

Newport Beach affected areas

Newport Beach affected areas

sea-level rise – if no adaptation actions are taken. Commissioned by the Ocean Protection Council, the Public Interest Research Program of the California Energy Commission, and the California Department of Transportation, this comprehensive assessment of the impacts of sea-level rise puts California in the lead in trying to understand and adapt to the possible consequences of climate change.

Over the past century, mean sea level has risen nearly eight inches at the Golden Gate in San Francisco according to NOAA oceanographers, and under a medium-to-medium-high greenhouse-gas emissions scenario, mean sea level is projected to rise from 1.0 to 1.4 meters (or 4-5 feet) by the year 2100.

The Pacific Institute report, The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast, concludes that sea-level rise will inevitably change the character of the California coast, and that adaptation strategies must be evaluated, tested, and implemented if the risks identified in the report are to be reduced or avoided. (more…)

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