Environmentalists Applaud City of Hermosa Beach’s Vote to Oppose Coastal Desalination
Organizations say the City shares Manhattan Beach’s preference for recycled wastewater
LOS ANGELES, March 22, 2016 — Tonight, the Hermosa Beach City Council approved its letter of opposition to the West Basin Ocean Water Desalination Project being proposed by the West Basin Municipal Water District. Hermosa Beach’s decision comes on the heels of Manhattan Beach similarly opposing the proposed project on February 16, meaning two of the 17 cities served by West Basin Municipal Water District have now come out opposed to the plan.
Representatives from environmental organizations, including Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Heal the Bay and Surfrider Foundation–South Bay Chapter, joined concerned residents in speaking against the plant because it will harm the local environment and economy.
After hearing comments, all five councilmembers spoke in opposition of the desalination plant, noting in their official letter to West Basin Municipal Water District that the City of Hermosa Beach encourages West Basin to explore conservation and expansion of recycled water prior to investing in the proposed project that has potentially substantial impacts on Santa Monica Bay.
“It is great to see the early support from the cities of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach protecting our coastline from industrial facilities,” says Bruce Reznik, Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director. “We agree that West Basin has other options that are less costly, energy intensive and better for our coastal communities.”
The West Basin Municipal Water District is proposing a 20 – 60 million-gallon-per-day desalination plant along the coast. The plant proposal looks to use open ocean intakes, which is known for entrapping and killing millions of fish and marine life per year. West Basin estimates water produced will cost $1,600-$1,900 per acre-foot, which is significantly more expensive than the water West Basin currently imports, and environmental groups and other experts fear costs could be even higher. Open ocean desalination is also the most energy-intensive approach to enhancing local water supplies, thereby contributing to the region’s carbon footprint and exacerbating climate change.
The proposed desalination plant, which would be the first large-scale industrial facility constructed on the Santa Monica Bay beachfront since the 1950s, would be located near the region’s largest water reclamation plant, The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. West Basin already works to reclaim some of that water to augment local supplies, and is planning to expand its water recycling over the coming years.
“Expanding the amount of Hyperion’s wastewater that is captured, treated and reclaimed beyond what is already envisioned is the more sustainable and cost-effective option,” says Craig W. Cadwallader, Chair of Surfrider Foundation South Bay Chapter. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically reduce the wastewater currently being dumped into the Santa Monica Bay, where millions of people swim, dive and surf, on a regular basis.”
“At best, ocean water desalination should be considered an option of last resort,” says Heal the Bay Water Resources Policy Analyst Steven Johnson. “The Hermosa Beach City Council obviously has done their research on the other, much more cost-effective, options available to have a drought-proof and environmentally friendly source of water for their community.”
ABOUT LOS ANGELES WATERKEEPER
Founded in 1993, Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay and adjacent waters through enforcement, fieldwork, and community action.
ABOUT HEAL THE BAY
Heal the Bay is an environmental non-profit dedicated to making the coastal waters and watersheds of greater L.A. safe, healthy, and clean. We use science, education, community action and advocacy to pursue our mission. Founded in 1985, we rely on our over 15,000 members and thousands of volunteers to help achieve our mission.
About Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide. Learn more at surfrider.org.