Superior Court Upholds Regional Board’s Approval of Carlsbad Desalination Project

San Diego, CA – Poseidon Resources today announced that the California Superior Court has upheld the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s most recent approval of the Carlsbad Desalination Project (“Project”), bringing to an end the legal challenges filed against the Project.

Between 2006 and 2009, thirteen legal challenges – eight lawsuits and five permit appeals – were filed against the Project primarily by the San Diego Chapters of Surfrider Foundation and Coastkeeper (see attached litigation chronology). Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes’ ruling resolves the last outstanding legal challenge against the Project.

“We appreciate the Court’s thoughtful consideration of the record built by the Project over the past decade,” said Poseidon Resources’ Senior Vice President Peter MacLaggan. “The ruling is definitive and is the latest independent determination that the Project complies with all applicable state and federal environmental laws,” said MacLaggan.

In the lawsuit, the Surfrider Foundation alleged that the Project did not comply with California Water Code Section 13142.5(b), which requires new industrial facilities using seawater for processing to use the best available site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible to avoid the intake and mortality of marine life.

In issuing her judgment, Judge Hayes ruled that the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board properly applied state law, and that “Water Code Section 13142.5(b) does not prohibit the implementation of restorative mitigation measures when considering a project’s best available, site, design, technology and mitigation measures feasible.” Judge Hayes’ ruling went on to say, “The plain language of the Section 13142.5(b) provides that mitigation measures, together with the best available site, design and technology will be used for each new coastal industrial plant.” Judge Hayes also ruled that the Federal Clean Water Act Section 316(b) does not apply to desalination plants as originally asserted by Surfrider.

The Project underwent approximately 20 public hearings with over 80 hours of public testimony and deliberation over a seven year permitting period that started in 2003. Each and every one of the state’s environmental permitting and regulatory agencies that reviewed the Project approved it.

“The across-the-board approval of the Project by California’s environmental regulators including the Coastal Commission, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board and State Lands Commission is a clear indication that the Carlsbad Desalination Project is fully protective of the environment,” continued MacLaggan. “While the opponents’ litigation strategy was unfortunate, we now have a robust legal record to guide the future permitting of desalination projects in California, “said MacLaggan.
Phase I Project construction was initiated in November 2009 and Phase II will commence after Project financing is completed later this year.

Poseidon Resources specializes in developing and financing water infrastructure projects, primarily seawater desalination and water treatment plants. These projects are implemented through innovative public-private partnerships in which private enterprise assumes the developmental and financial risks. For more information on Poseidon Resources and the Carlsbad desalination plant visit our website at