Three desalination bills on legislative floor in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO — Two Orange County legislators introduced three bills in Sacramento last month to advance proposed desalination projects along the California Coast.

Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) and Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) advanced proposals declare the legislature’s intent to pursue desalination plants as a viable alternative to address California’s drought and expedite proposals to build such plants.

Plans have been in the works to build a desalination plant off the Huntington Beach coast, which is within Harper’s district. Local and regional water districts and boards have been working on the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project – a planned desalination plant adjacent to Doheny State Beach in Dana Point – since the mid-2000s. The Doheny project is within Brough’s district.

Harper introduced Assembly Bill 2042 (AB 2042) on Feb. 17 to establish Sacramento’s intent to pursue desalination-themed legislation.

“Existing law, the Cobey-Porter Saline Water Conversion Law, states the policy of this state that desalination projects developed by or for public water entities be given the same opportunities for state assistance and funding as other water supply and reliability projects, and that desalination be consistent with all applicable environmental protection policies in the state,” AB 2042, a spot bill, stated. “This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation relating to water desalination facilities.”

AB 2043, also introduced by Harper, could make desalination a priority.

Brough seeks to ensure any proposals in front of the California Coastal Commission for a desalination project is given priority.

“This bill would require an application for a coastal development permit for a desalinization project, as described, to be given priority for review, and would require the issuing agency to expedite the processing of any such permit application,” the language of AB 2198, introduced on Feb. 18, stated.

The three bills are still in the committee stage.

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