An Open Letter to OC Register Columnist Bill Borden About the Myths of Poseidon

Dear Bill:

In your recent column in the Orange County Register (Reject Huntington desal myths),  you purport to describe and refute several myths made by opponents to Poseidon Resources Inc., a multinational water privatization company that proposes to build a desalination plant roughly at the corner of Newland Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway in the southeast portion of Huntington Beach, California.

Poseidon Resources and its supporters say the plant would provide a vital addition to the city’s water portfolio in response to the state’s alleged water shortage–a “green” and “drought free” source of drinking water provided to the citizens of Huntington Beach and Orange County at competitive rates.

Poseidon's true believers
In Poseidon we trust? HB City Council members (L-R) Don Hansen, Keith Bohr, Gil Coerper and Cathy Green are true believers. Cartoon by Tim Pham

Poseidon and its supporters have always claimed that its desalination plant would be built and operated purely as a privately run, non government-subsidized operation–all done at no risk to taxpayers–and the epitome of the free market.

But, in fact, documents which I have quoted at length in previous articles I wrote have shown that Poseidon is relying on public financing for the viability of both of its proposed southern California desalination plants.

Poseidon’s thirst for public funds has never been a secret.

Although former Poseidon representative Billy Owens tried to convince the Huntington Beach city council in 2006 that it was not seeking a government handout for its Carlsbad plant by saying that the money would only be for shipping water–all for the benefit of the people, not to help Poseidon in any way, everyone who closely followed the facts, including city council members, knew that there is no way Poseidon could offer water at $800 per acre-foot as promised without subsidies. Actually, the water it would produce in Huntington Beach will likely cost ratepayers between $2,000 and $3,000, as much as six times the cost of even imported water, but more about that later.

But despite the smokescreen, Poseidon has long been on record as requesting, if not demanding, government subsidies.

In fact, the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles County recently voted to provide a $350 million subsidy that, technically, goes to the San Diego Water Authority to help offset the increased costs of water, but which will directly benefit Poseidon and its Carlsbad plant by helping to make it cost effective and viable to investors.  Poseidon’s officers pleaded desperately for that government handout because, they said, they could not finance their project without it–you can see them plead and whine on video at

As for the Huntington Beach plant, there is a Memo of Understanding between Poseidon and the Municipal Water District of Orange County confirming that, if the Huntington Beach project goes through, MWDOC will receive a $350 million subsidy to offset the higher costs of desalinated water Poseidon will produce. Poseidon Resources is also counting on that money, according to its own words in a letter to the California Coastal Commission, referred to in my article, Desal Bailout.

So, I was wondering where you came up with the bold statement that there will be no public financing of the Huntington Beach desalination plant?

What else would you call $350 million designated as part of Poseidon’s 30 year contract with MWDOC if not a government, taxpayer funded, handout to private enterprise?

And there very well could be much more public financing for each plant than that, but let’s start with your response to the $350 million grants.

To assist you in your future research, I have republished some articles I wrote previously on the financing issues regarding Poseidon. You can read them here:

Part I: Desal Bailout; No Cost Desal Costs A Lot; and a video report, The Poseidon Adventure.

In the coming days I will have other questions for you regarding other claims (or myths?) you created in your column.

I look forward to your response.

Thank you.


John Earl


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6 thoughts on “An Open Letter to OC Register Columnist Bill Borden About the Myths of Poseidon”

  1. Why is it that environmentalists insist on government subsidies for “alternative” fuels, since they can’t deliver energy at competitive prices, but when they want to stop some other type of project (in this case we really need water, it’s not an alleged water shortage), they scream that government subsidies are terrible?

  2. Dear Cunctator: The point here is that the public was told all along, by Poseidon and its supporters on the Huntington Beach City Council, and in Bill Borden’s column cited above, that the Posedion Resources desalination plant in Huntington Beach would be a soley private, free-market operation, without public financing, when in fact, it was never intended as such. Shouldn’t the public be told the truth?

  3. What does shill not understand about Poseidon Resources? Many of the little people and fellow taxpayers are trying to educate the HB taxpayers that we have bought into a “Flim Flam” operation. Why did the spokesperson for Poseidon Resources disappear after getting the 4 person Councilman vote? Why did the Poseidon Resources Technical VP quit the company?

    Has the shill done his due diligence on Poseidon Resources? We the taxpayers want to know what the capitalization and Tangible Net Worth of a company is before you give them free reins to the City Treasury. Look at the Sports Complex; whereby the contractor absconded with $975,000 in taxpayers money and there was no recovery. Mayor Bohr was then on the Planning Commission and approved this project and contractor. The City Attorney did get a raise the following year for not collecting. Instigated by Mayor Bohr

    Why did the first two contractors that were selected by Poseidon Resources go bankrupt during the construction of the Tampa Bay Desal Plant. This is a “red flag” waving since Poseidon was responsible. These are just the simple examples that the shill should be able to understand.
    Poseidon digs up our streets to build a pipeline and then defaults. The shill will then consider these 10 foot trenches as potholes and do nothing as he did not ask for a Performance Bond or a Completion Bond for this project.
    Then there is the Ascon Dump which makes a nice terrorist target waiting to explode as a living testament of 40 years of Huntington Beach Political Machine control.
    Milt Dardis
    Ethics; We have no stinking Ethics

  4. Mr. Earl did not include my reply in his submission. It was as follows:

    Dear John,

    Thank you for your question in regard to a recent column.

    You are asking me to prove that there are no public funds being used for the Poseidon project. You are a pretty smart guy and must know that it is philosophically impossible to prove a negative. If you are making the claim that public funds are being used, then it is you who should do the proving.

    I will advise that no municipal bonds are being used and that the project is not being subsidised. If you are able to prove that public funds are being used, your other readers and I would be very interested in the details.

    One area frequently misconstrued as public funding is the subsity given as an incentive to MWD, not Poseidon.
    Further, Poseidon in Carlsbad issued tax free bonds, but as you know these are not public funds.

    You indicate that you will have other questions regarding this column. While I always respond to reader questions, I have no thirst for an ongoing dialogue on this column or any other column. I write 52 a year and can’t keep dwelling on one over another.

    Thank you again for reading my column and taking the time to write.

    Bill Borden

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