Category Archives: In the News
What do the city of Carlsbad, the country of Saudi Arabia and Catalina Island have in common? They are all host to commercial water desalination plants. Saudi Arabia, in fact, obtains the majority of its water from the oceans. If Poseidon Water gets its way, they will have their foot in the door to do the same here in Orange County.
Poseidon Water, a major player in the water production industry, has been trying to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach for the past 15 years. It looked like the process of permitting and planning was finally coming to a head with a recent hearing before the California Coastal Commission. Supposedly, these folks would have the final say as to whether Poseidon could go ahead with their plans.
The project has faced massive opposition from mainstream environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation who say the project is a danger to marine life. One aspect of the proposal has the system using existing sea intakes which are soon to be outlawed by the state. So, even using those intakes would require a modification or change by the year 2020. The company has promised to review the issues raised at the hearing, attended by more than 300 people, and return with acceptable answers. “This project has taken us more than 15 years. we’re not going to just go away”, said Poseidon Vice President Scott Maloni.
Other environmental issues dogging the project concern location. Although the company is footing the bill for the initial construction through a so-called public-private partnership, they are relying on existing plant facilities for much of their infrastructure. The plant is slated to be built on the same property as the existing AES power generation plant. And, although their website claims they do not need the AES plant to generate their electricity needs, it is clear having ready made power nearby is an advantage. The Carlsbad facility which is operated by Poseidon is also built next to an electrical generation station. And, when the AES plant was scheduled to shutdown in 2018, we could presume the land would go to better uses (after cleanup). With Poseidon continuing to operate, the land would continue to be a blight on the coast.
In some ways, cost is as big a factor as the environment. Generating fresh water from seawater is power intensive and costly. According to Poseidon, who downplays the cost by putting it in terms of per-family, it will take 35 megawatts of power to run the desalinators. That’s a massive amount of electricity for the meager return from the plant. In fact, the single plant will supply only 8%% of the water needs of Orange County.
While that may seem like a significant amount, it will be at a significant cost to the consumer. Currently, water coming from conventional sources costs less than half the $2,000 per acre foot of desalinated water. Poseidon has a friend in local water companies to help them over the economic hurdle, however.
The Municipal Water District of Orange County is on board with desalination. “Continuing to invest in additional water sources such as ocean desalination, will be critical to both our
economy and sustaining Orange County’s growth,” touts their website, showing the same eight percent slice of the pie for desalinated water as Poseidon’s charts. If MWDOC contracts with Poseidon, Tustin, as a member agency, will have no choice but to foot the bill for the project. But, that’s OK because most of Tustin’s Councilmembers are on board with the idea even though many cities, including Los Angeles and Long Beach have shelved the idea of desalination in favor of cheaper and easier to obtain sources that include, (what will they think of next?) water conservation efforts. This isn’t surprising as the conservative majority of the council has long held that business interests, any business, take precedence over the needs and desires of the residents of our town Tustin.
MWDOC is also on board in other ways. They are a member of the Mesa Water District inspired CalDesal, a quasi-government inspired non-profit that promotes desalination efforts “in the Golden State”. Membership is limited to government agencies and water districts. Current membership, including MWDOC, is thirty-four. Associate members, almost all of whom are companies related to the water industry, number forty.
The economic risk, by the way, is with the consumer. If Poseidon is allowed to build their plant under current conditions, consumer agencies such as MWDOC have agreed to buy water from them regardless of whether they need it or not. That guarantee could cost consumers billions of dollars for up to 30 years. Thanks to lobbying efforts, the conservative board members of MWDOC and your city council have no problem spending your money to underwrite what should be a completely privatized effort. C’mon, where is that entrepreneurial spirit?
Although the California Coastal Commission has delayed their vote on the issue, it has not gone away and is not likely to, in the near future. Poseidon has vowed to return with answers to all of their questions and the MWDOC, as lead agency and promoter of desalination, will push to the end. At some point, it will be the Commission who must make the final decision. Some factions, such as Orange County Coastkeeper, an environmental group opposed to the project, have vowed to do what it takes to keep Poseidon from breaking ground.
It’s also interesting to note that the current Huntington Beach City Council, headed by Mayor Connie Boardman, attended the meeting to voice their opposition to the plant. Poseidon has promised 2,000 construction jobs, over a dozen permanent plant jobs and untold amounts of money coming into the city because of the project. Nonetheless, Boardman voiced the majority opinion of the city saying, “We wanted to make sure the costal commission knew the opinion of this city council was different.” Boardman would rather see investment in groundwater aquifiers which she sees as a better and less-costly alternative.
According to reports, there are more than a dozen desalination plants in the works along the coast. This could be the “energy” controversy of the 21st century much as nuclear energy was in the past. Although the ramifications may differ, the environmental concerns and future cost could make desalination yesterday’s buzzword.
Every year for the past few years, Tustin’s own Tyron Jackson has rolled out the red carpet for the less fortunate in Our Town Tustin. This year, on Thanksgiving Day, Tyron and his volunteers will be in Peppertree Park, once again, to bring a Thanksgiving feast to Tustin’s less fortunate with Operation Warm Wishes.
From noon to 5 pm this Thursday, our homeless, families in need, senior citizens, troubled youth and simply anyone who wants to share a great Thanksgiving dinner with their neighbors, can join Jackson, no strings attached.
This is going to be an amazing event for the whole family and community, all to help those in need.You’re invited! Come and be served! For more information please call,.
Jackson promises a spectacular time for everyone who attends. There will be food and entertainment for the fifth year in a row. From what I hear, Denny’s has donated mashed potatoes and Trader Joe’s has donated the gravy. Redhill Elementary school has also helped with a food drive aimed at Operation Warm Wishes.
Tyron Jackson is no stranger to the community, particularly the homeless and less fortunate. He holds several events a year to promote awareness of homelessness, mental illness and to support the less fortunate in our community. Sock drives are a particular forte of his and he was recently seen passing out blankets and other cold weather items to help keep them warmer on these recently chilly nights.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I have so much to do,….. I have the entire family coming over,……. Homeless? We don’t have homeless in Tustin (yes, we do)…..” But, how hard would it be and how much time would it take to stop by Peppertree Park and let Tyron know how great it is that he does this? You might even feel the urge to share slice of pie with his friends.
Happy Thanksgiving. Oh, and in case you were wondering, no boring Planning Commission meeting this week. The City Council meets on December 3rd for what will probably be (with any luck) their last meeting of the year.
Veterans Day and Memorial Day usually cross over for me. I can’t help thinking of our living Vets without also thinking of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and security. Like many of you, I have friends who have paid a price for that freedom. All to often, is has been their life or a substantial injury – physical or psychological.
On Memorial Day, I can usually be found with my veterans group, at Westminster Memorial Park, paying homage to our fallen comrades. This ceremony is particularly special to me – the remaining members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association lay a wreath along with the rest of us. This year, there were only two who could attend. I am told there are only three left in the county.
Veterans Day is different. As a former member of the United States Air Force during Vietnam, I felt it was rather self-serving to celebrate a time that I was not particularly proud of. I’ve written about my experiences coming home in uniform. And, although the military gave me a start in life, it was not something I thought much of after my discharge. That is, until Veterans Day of 2005.
On that particular day, my wife talked me into going down to Peppertree Park where The American Legion was hosting a celebration. During the ceremonies, the emcee asked all the veterans of each respective war to stand up. They were greeted with applause.
When it came time for the Vietnam Era vets to stand, I didn’t. My wife kept hitting me in the ribs until finally, exasperated, I stood. Instead of the usual applause, the emcee said, “Welcome Home” in recognition of the general feeling of Americans towards servicemen of the era.
It was the first time someone said that to me. I was flabbergasted, dumfounded and -mostly- embarrassed. Later, it gave me the courage to thank others and welcome them home. It’s something that, I am proud to say, has become a national trend. In the years since, I have been welcomed home, bear hugged and thanked for my service more times than I will ever be able to count. I am grateful and humbled. Today, I still thank men and women in uniform for their service as well as veterans I’ve come to know. I surround myself with other veterans from organizations like The American Legion and the American Legion Riders. Both organizations give back tremendously to our veterans who have given so much for us.
There is a gap, however. Many veterans, too many in fact, are homeless. Many others who suffer PTS are written off as mentally ill. County veterans organizations and the OC Veterans Service Office work hard both politically and at the grassroots level to change national policy and get veterans the help they need. And, you can help.
On Veterans Day, public and private sector labor unions are taking the lead to obtain needed services for our veterans, on the heels of the recent Orange County Veterans Stand Down, the Orange County Employees Association, in conjunction with other county unions will be hosting a “mini-stand down” of sorts at the Orange County Fairgrounds.
We are hosting a FREE Veterans Day community celebration Nov. 11 to say thank you to our veterans, to connect them with the services they need, and to give them our gratitude. There are so many ways for you and your family to give back at this eventfrom saying a simple “thank you” to sending a care package, to writing a holiday card for a veteran.
This is our opportunity to show the entire community our commitment to the values of our country and the importance of public service. And it’s FREE (so are the famous OCEA hot dogs!)
So please bring your children. And let’s stand together to say “thank you” and to fight for them the way they fought for us.
The day begins with a motorcycle rally & run from the OC Labor Federation in Orange to the fairgrounds. The rally begins at 10:30 AM with Kickstands up at 11:30 AM. At the fairgrounds, the general public will be treated to static military displays and be able to make cards for overseas military and send care packages in a program partnership with the Orange County Register. There will be a resource fair available for veterans as well. Form more information, click on the links and also go to the VeteransandLabor.com Website.
OCEA General Manager, Nick Berardino, a Vietnam Veteran himself, hopes that everyone will come out, enjoy the day and say thanks to the veterans of our community. I think we should also thank Nick. Not just for his work with the public unions in doing a remarkable job for their members but, especially for his service to the greatest country in the world.
Welcome home, Nick.
The National Women’s Political Caucus, a grassroots organization focused on increasing the presence of women in politics, will be hosting a local event at the home of Sherri and Gary Loveland in Tustin Ranch on November 15th.
“Even though women make up more than 50 percent of our state’s population, the number of women in elected office is on the decline…”. The first step to reversing this trend, according to the NWPC, is to honor and celebrate women who have already broken the glass ceiling.
On November 15th, the local chapter of NWPC plans to do just that by honoring, among others, Tustin’s first woman mayor, Ursula Kennedy. Ursula served on the Tustin City Council for 12 years, from 1978 to 1990 and was the very first woman mayor of the city. She chose not to run again saying,”This last year has been the most exciting year of my life, I had to keep the council from blowing up, and I think I did a commendable job. It was like having five sticks of dynamite at every meeting.”
Ursula, who has commented often to me that things haven’t changed a lot since those days, has remained active in local politics. She has been on several forums and committees and actively supported another former councilwoman, Tracey Worley-Hagen, in her bid for election last year.
Along with Urusla Kennedy, the NWPC will also honor the Honorable Ellen Corbett, Senate Majority Leader, the former Senator, Marth Escutia, Karen Cebreros and Allyson Sonenshine. Cebreros is President and founder of Elan Organic Coffees and Sonenshine is the founding director of Orange County Women’s Health Project.
Registration and sponsorship details can be found here. The evening runs from 6-9 PM and promises to be interesting and fun as these women of California are honored by the community.