Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


This Comment argues that the federal and state standards for reducing marine life mortality from power-plant intakes should be applied to a statewide policy for new desalination projects in California. Under this framework, open seawater intakes should not be permitted for new desalination plants. Part II of this Comment provides an overview of the history and technology of desalination as well as environmental impacts of open seawater intakes and alternative intake technologies. Part III surveys existing state and federal laws addressing open seawater intakes and suggests a framework for applying these laws to desalination projects. Part IV argues that new desalination plants should not be permitted to use open seawater intakes because doing so would be inconsistent with California law and would undercut other California efforts to protect marine life. Part V presents the Carlsbad Desalination Project as a case study of how existing state law has been improperly applied to grant water permits. Part VI concludes with a summary of why a statewide desalination policy should be implemented consistent with state law.