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Less than six months after rejecting a proposal for a major desalination plant in Huntington Beach, the California Coastal Commission on Thursday approved plans for a different, smaller project in Orange County that could serve as a model for future projects.
The commission gave unanimous approval — with conditions — to the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project near Pacific Coast Highway and San Juan Creek in Dana Point. The facility, which will convert seawater to drinking water, will be operated by the South Coast Water District.
Unlike the Poseidon Water project, which was rejected in May because of dangers it posed to marine life and other issues, the Doheny plant will tie in to an existing municipal system and feature a better environmental design, officials said. But while some championed the project as an example of desalination “done right,” opponents said there are more efficient and economical methods that should be explored first.
Kate Huckelbridge, the Coastal Commission’s senior deputy director, said in an interview before the meeting that Doheny cleared many of the hurdles that come with desalination and “represents an easier pathway to an approvable project.”
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