DCBureau.org releases in depth investigation into California’s Proposed Desalination Plant

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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.

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ENS: Animal Waste on Factory Farms Comes Under Closer EPA Scrutiny

Photo: Nigel Monckton
Photo: Nigel Monckton
The Environmental Protection Agency, in a legal settlement that could affect the entire U.S. meat industry, has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution with animal waste.

Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFO’s, confine animals on an industrial scale and produce massive amounts of manure and other waste. They apply liquid animal waste on land, which runs off into waterways, killing fish, spreading disease, and contaminating drinking water.

More than 30 years ago, Congress identified factory farms as water pollution sources to be regulated under the Clean Water Act’s permit program. But a Bush administration regulation allowed large facilities to bypass government regulation by claiming, without verification, that they do not discharge into waterways.

The settlement, which challenged the Bush administration loophole, requires the EPA to propose a rule on greater information gathering on CAFO’s within the next 12 months.

READ THIS STORY AT ENS-NEWSWIRE.COM

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ABC: Progress on BP Spill Containment, But Is It Safe to Swim?

Photo: Jeff Warren
Photo: Jeff Warren
BP announced Sunday that they were collecting more than 10,000 barrels of oil a day from the recently placed containment cap. BP’s next step is to close the vents on the cap that are still allowing streams of oil to escape. U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen tempered the good news, however, saying “There will be oil out there for months to come.”

Beachgoers will likely have to deal with oil on the shores well into the fall, which brings up the question: Is it safe to swim? Health Departments of three states have already issued swim advisories urging people to steer clear of any waters with visible oil. One health expert said swimmers should avoid oily water because the effects of exposure to oil and dispersant are not currently known.

READ THIS STORY AT ABCNEWS.COM

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ENN: New Study Examines the Effects of Development Intensity on Stream Health

The United States Geological Survey studied the effects of urbanization of nine metropolitan areas to look at the impact on algae, aquatic insects, fish, habitat, and chemistry. They found that development degraded the areas.

The health of a waterway is entirely dependent on the status of its riparian zone, the area of land from which storm water flows. In urban areas, impervious surfaces like roads, buildings, and parking lots cover more of the riparian zone. During a storm, water is unable to penetrate the ground surface to recharge aquifers and instead flows to streams and rivers through storm drains.

However, storm water in urban environments is a major source of pollution and is detrimental to riverine ecosystems. The water carries with it all of the deposition of human activities including lawn fertilizer, rock salt and calcium chloride pellets, spilled gasoline and other automotive fluids, litter, and other industrial pollutants.

READ THIS STORY AT ENN.COM

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