Carlsbad Desalinization Plant Gets Public Funding
California has been in a water crisis for years. Poseidon is one of many private corporations who are hoping to end that crisis. Specializing in desalinizing salt-water so that it can be used in homes, the Poseidon desalinization plant could provide 15 million gallons of fresh water a day–enough for 100,000 homes. For years now, the company has been struggling against environmental groups and the Carlsbad city council in order to begin construction of its plant on the coast of Southern California. On Tuesday, November 11, 2009 they were authorized to receive public bonds that could amount to $350 million over 25 years.
The completion of this step moves the Poseidon project ahead of a host of other desalinization plants expected to be built along the California coast. The public bonds are intended to subsidize the cost of the water created by the Poseidon plant so that it can compete against the water currently provided by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. These bonds will also help the company get private financing in the near future.
Earlier this year, many of the farms in the central valley of California, where one quarter of the nation’s fruits and vegetables are grown, were cut off from their water supply. In March 2009 a judge ruled to shut off the water because the Delta Smelt, a small fish that is on the Endangered Species list, was getting caught in the pumps that brought the water to the farmers. Economists estimate that this decision would most likely cause nearly 750,000 acres of farmland to go unused resulting in nearly $1.5 billion of lost revenue and the loss of 40,000 jobs.
It is events like this to which Poseidon and other desalinization companies hope to put an end. But as good as desalinization seems, there are some who oppose the plant. Critics cite the failure of a Poseidon desalinization plant in Tampa Bay, FL in the late 1990’s. The project ran $40 million over budget and eventually had to be absorbed by the city of Tampa Bay in 1999. In addition, opponents to the plant claim that Poseidon’s process of desalinization is extremely energy intensive. Environmentalist groups also say that Poseidon has misrepresented the statistics of how much sea life will be killed per gallon of salt-water drawn in from the ocean.