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State water agency rejects appeals from environmental groups for desalination plant

SAN DIEGO - A controversial proposal to operate a seawater desalination plant in North County that's already under construction moved a step closer to final approval today, when a state water agency rejected appeals from two environmental groups for the third time.

The State Water Resources Control Board dismissed appeals from the Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper to deny a permit for the Poseidon Resources desalination plant under construction in Carlsbad.

Poseidon Resources, the project's developer, described the appeal as ''yet another politically motivated attempt to stop seawater desalination from becoming a part of California's drinking water supply.''

''After spending the better part of the past decade successfully permitting the state's first large-scale seawater desalination plant, construction of the Carlsbad project has started and the inevitable completion of the plant cannot be derailed by opponents of seawater desalination,'' said Scott Maloni, vice president of Poseidon Resources.

In a statement, Coastkeeper said the board's decision was imprudent amid recent information about the impacts of power plants.

''Unfortunately, the political pressure to approve the project has been so great; common sense has been dismissed along with the petition to review this flawed and incomplete plant,'' said Gabriel Solmer, Coastkeeper's legal director.

Numerous other permitting and legal challenges to the plant have been unsuccessful. Critics worry that salt removed from oceanwater will be flushed back out to sea, harming wildlife.

When its completed in 2012, the plant will be capable of producing about 50 million gallons of drinking water a day.


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