and Newland Street.
The plant is said to be capable of creating 50 million gallons of
drinking water per day from the sea.
"This is by no means a done deal," Councilman Don Hansen said,
arguing that the project must still go through a permitting process
more rigorous than Tuesday's hearing.
"I feel like it was a good decision, and the environmental
concerns were dealt with," Poseidon Senior Vice President Billy Owens
said after the hearing. "It's progress, and we're happy with it."
Hundreds of people packed City Hall for the nine-anda-half-hour
meeting. They quickly filled the small amphitheater and overflow
seating areas, forcing some residents to watch the hearings on a
small television in a City Hall entryway.
Foes and friends of the project maintained a relatively cordial
atmosphere during the intense hearings, which included more than five
hours of public comment ranging from the pragmatic to the volatile,
with plenty of friendly hooting and hollering on both sides.
In the end, a contingency of Poseidon supporters wearing
pro-desalination T-shirts walked away the victors, much to the
chagrin of the dozens of southeast Huntington Beach residents who
argued that the plant will have a negative effect on their already
heavily industrialized neighborhood.
Arguments for and against the plant seemed to address every
conceivable facet of the project, but in the end the debate narrowed
to two points. Opponents of the project said the group's
environmental report did not adequately address all the effects of
They also argued that building the Poseidon facility behind AES
prolonged the life of the aging power plant.
The project's backers said the report met state requirements and
argued that a denial of Poseidon could mean a public water agency
would likely move onto the site and build a desalination plant. State
law would give Huntington Beach very little say over how the
government used the land.
"My biggest fear is that if we say no, then a public agency will
come in and build it anyway," Councilwoman Cathy Green said. "Then we