Hermosa Beach Council Votes No on Desal Plant

Mar. 24, 2016 — Hermosa Beach City Council adds its voice to growing chorus against proposed desal plant in South Bay.

The anti-desal nightlife continued Tuesday in the South Bay – this time at the Hermosa Beach City Council, whose members became the latest municipality to publicly voice opposition to a proposed desalination plant located near the Manhattan Beach-El Segundo border.

Environmental groups have been quietly working behind the scenes to convince the West Basin Municipal Water District to abandon its plan to construct a $300 million plant that aims to convert up to 60 million gallons of seawater a day into drinking water.

But you could tell the secret is out, judging from a line out the door Tuesday night for those who wanted to speak out against the shoreline plant. The usual suspects were there: Craig Cadwallader from Surfrider, Melissa Kelly from L.A. Waterkeeper, Manhattan Beach Mayor Mark Burton, along with a host of new faces who have caught the opposition tide. Steven Johnson, a staff scientist for Heal the Bay, discussed marine impacts during his public comments.

Besides the specter of literally sucking the life out of the ocean, we have concerns about how much energy and money will be spent on a desal plant before more sustainable options like increased water recycling from the nearby Hyperion Treatment Plant are fully explored.

The Hermosa Beach meeting followed on the heels of a vote earlier in the month at City Hall in Manhattan Beach, whose council voted unanimously to send an opposition letter to West Basin’s board.

The stakes certainly must be rising, as elected officials comprised nearly a quarter of the people in the room.  Four of the five West Basin board members spoke in favor of simply “exploring the option” of desalination. Two councilmembers from Manhattan Beach and one from Redondo also rose to announce their concerns.

Before the vote, Hermosa Beach Mayor Carolyn Petty succinctly framed the debate.

“Americans never seem to be told not to be wasteful,” she said. “In European society smaller amounts of waste is carefully collected and they are much more efficient with what they consume. In the U.S. the answer always seems to be to find a way to simply deliver more product by whatever means necessary.”

The Hermosa Beach City Council then voted 5-0 in favor of writing a letter to West Basin Municipal Water District saying they oppose the construction of a desalination plant on their coast.

Learn more about practical alternatives to desalination. 

At What Cost? Desalination plant protest aerial photo by Greg Noakes
This aerial image was produced during a campaign against a proposed desalination plant in Australia. Photo by Greg Noakes.