In a disappointing transition from respected environmentalists to paid lobbyists, former Sen. Barbara Boxer and former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez last week endorsed Poseidon Water’s plan to sell Orange County 50 million gallons of desalinated drinking water daily – water that Orange County doesn’t need. After being hired by Poseidon, both immediately called upon state regulators to approve the proposed Huntington Beach desalination project. Poseidon has already admitted to spending $1.6 million on local, state and federal politicos in attempts to push through this unnecessary and costly project.  This aligns Boxer and Nunez with the Trump Administration, which also has taken an interest in attempting to push the project forward.

Thankfully, a fierce group of activists, informed community members and NGOs are working hard to protect the public interest by shedding light on the many serious impacts associated with the project, as well as the multi-beneficial viable alternatives that would simultaneously solve Orange County’s water supply issues, cost less and even improve the environment.

Below, we present an open letter to former Sen. Boxer and former Assemblymember Nunez. We encourage you to send your own – more info at the bottom!

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Dear Senator Boxer and Assemblymember Nunez,

We are extremely disappointed that you are now, as paid agent for Poseidon Water, working to influence regulatory agencies with authority to permit the proposed Huntington Beach desalination facility. The billion-dollar, for-profit, private project is widely opposed because it is not necessary to meet Orange County’s water needs, it would impose sky-high economic and energy costs on area ratepayers and would utilize outdated, environmentally harmful technology and practices.

As former elected officials, you might have considered first contacting the people in the Orange County community about their serious and legitimate concerns regarding the project before joining the developers’ team roster. You would have found that project opponents are extremely well educated about water management problems in California. Like you, the community is also concerned about overdrafting our rivers and the construction of more dams, and is keenly aware of the challenges to reform water management in order to adapt to climate change.

First and foremost, new and creative multi-benefit desalination alternatives exist that would resolve present and future water reliability problems while helping with pollution abatement, habitat restoration, natural flood control and many more “integrated water management” benefits. Those solutions must be prioritized before investing in extremely expensive desalination facilities that are contractually obligated to operate regardless of demand for the water – Poseidon’s proposed “private-public partnership” in a “take or pay” contract will crowd out investments in preferred alternatives. Ratepayers would be charged extra while being denied the full community rewards from investing in multi-benefit solutions.

We were thrilled to see a well-respected water policy organization, the Pacific Institute, document and quantify the benefits of investments in preferred resources long advocated for in Orange County. (See: http://pacinst.org/publication/ca-water-supply-solutions/) Your support for seawater desalination before it has been proven necessary undermines sound environmental and economic policy.

Finally, Poseidon’s proposed mitigation measures are proven insufficient to offset the significant environmental harm from the poorly designed seawater facility; the plant would not conform with the State Water Board’s regulations for seawater desalination. To use your political influence to attempt to push this project through regardless of the impacts flies in the face of state law and public good.

We invite you to meet the people whose lives would be impacted in hopes of broadening your understanding and enlightening your stance on the project.

Sincerely,

Surfrider Foundation

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Here’s where you come in!

Please, take a few minutes and write to former Sen. Boxer and former Asm. Nunez to share your opinion and ask them to support the public interest and stop lobbying for Poseidon Water.

Below are a few suggested talking points:

  • Poseidon Water’s billion dollar private, for-profit project is widely opposed because it is not necessary to meet Orange County’s water needs, it would impose sky high economic and energy costs on area ratepayers and utilizes out dated, environmentally harmful technology and practices.
  • New and creative desalination alternatives exist that would resolve present and future water reliability problems while helping with pollution abatement, habitat restoration, natural flood control and many more “integrated water management” benefits. Those solutions must be prioritized before investing in extremely expensive desalination facilities that are contractually obligated to operate regardless of demand for the water.
  • Poseidon’s proposed “private-public partnership” in a “take or pay” contract will crowd out investments in preferred alternatives. Ratepayers will be charged extra while being denied the full community rewards from investing in multi-benefit solutions.
  • Your support for seawater desalination before it has been proven necessary undermines sound environmental and economic policy.
  • Poseidon’s mitigation measures are insufficient to offset the significant environmental harm from the poorly designed seawater facility. 

Contact information

Barbara Boxer: info@barbaraboxer.com

Fabian Nunez: fnunez@mercuryllc.com