FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joseph Trento, 202-466-4310 or (mobile) 202-255-2441
Janet Wilson, 714-649-0514
DCBureau.org releases in depth investigation into California’s Proposed Desalination Plant
Washington, DC, May 11, 2010 – From the beginning, developers of a huge desalination plant in Carlsbad, Calif., have promised it would cost the public nothing to build and would provide a critical new drinking water supply.
But dozens of interviews and a review of available records by the Public Education Center’s DCBureau.org show that southern Californians would actually pay at least $640 million over 30 years, including as much as $374 million in public subsidies. All that money would repay construction costs with interest, operating costs with overhead fees, and unspecified profits to investors for what would be the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.
So is the project a thirst quencher, an environmental problem, or both?
As population swells and climate change could begin to wreak havoc on already dwindling supplies, boosters say it is well worth the price to bring a local water supply to the drought prone region. They say desalination is a crucial piece of multi-pronged strategies to keep California flush with water, and despite recessionary woes, the time is right
But critics say that far from being a New Age answer to water woes, desalters are costly, unnecessary boondoggles that often malfunction and carry damaging environmental side effects. They argue subsidizing the costly plants is the wrong approach, and that conservation, recycling wastewater and other, far cheaper alternatives should be tried first.
Poseidon Resources LLC, the private developer, is pushing to complete a dizzying checklist of approvals before heading to Wall Street for financing later this month. Before the bond sale, it needs to obtain a second rating in addition to the BBB- it got from Standard and Poor’s, the lowest investment grade rating.
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DCBureau.org is a non-profit project staffed by award-winning reporters whose mission is to investigate previously overlooked news stories about significant issues and bring them to the attention of national and international audiences. Janet Wilson, a USC Annenberg Hunt national health reporting fellow, is an environmental journalist based in southern California.