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Orange County district moves toward buying desalinated water
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FOUNTAIN VALLEY (AP) — Faced with the ongoing drought, Orange County water officials have moved toward buying water from a proposed desalination plant.

The Orange County Water District, which covers most of northern Orange County, approved a term sheet to negotiate a 50-year contract to buy water from a plant proposed by Poseidon Water, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The proposed facility for Huntington Beach still needs a coastal-development permit from state regulators. Poseidon could bring its plan before the California Coastal Commission for review later this year.

Under the proposed deal with Orange County, the price of the desalinated water would be pegged to the price of imported water, plus a premium.

Supporters said it was worth paying more to have a reliable water source.

“The delta at the Colorado River is today a desert vastly larger than the area of Orange County,” said Vic Leipzig, a former mayor of Huntington Beach. “We must move away from imported water.”

Critics urged the water district to compare the offer with other alternatives. Three district board members called the plan incomplete.

“It may be that, at the end of the day, Poseidon is a great development,” water district board member Jan Flory said, “but to make a decision on it and move it forward incrementally does a disservice to our ratepayers and to people who are concerned about the environment and all the other issues that revolve around this.”