Do you want to help protect California’s coast? We took to the sky to get the story.

By February 24, 2016 Orange County

{Featured story for OC Mom Magazine}

We all love to walk the beautiful beaches of dreamy OC, but are our heads in the sand when it comes to nature’s impact and man’s ingenuity? We wondered ourselves, so we soared high above for a firsthand look.

OC Mom Magazine joined Orange County Coastkeeper, the environmental nonprofit organization, to get a bird’s-eye view of California’s coastline. We took to the sky during the recent King Tides, which reveal what the new normal of our shorelines will look like in 20–30 years due to sea level rise. The mission was piloted by our fierce friends at Flighthawk, wonderful volunteers helping conservation.

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Our savvy OC photographer Noel Beluzzi (mom of two and nature lover) flew above Huntington Beach to capture these photos for insight into changes that will effect future generations. We looked into the rising sea levels, climate changes and plans to combat California’s drought challenges. Noel’s best air-selfie below.

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{Also below is a more natural Noel, playing with her son. It’s so important to remember that our community’s actions today will change all of our children’s lives tomorrow.}

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On our aerial journey with Orange County Coastkeeper, who is passionate about protecting and promoting water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, fishable, they focused on the area over Huntington Beach, because it’s the second most vulnerable city to sea level rise in California.

The area is also the proposed site for a future desalination plant in Huntington Beach, proposed by Poseidon and to be built on the HB’s floodplains (the $1 billion desalination plant goes before the Coastal Commission later this year). The area, located on a floodplain, is highly subject to sea level rise. And how they will collect drought water (pulling in collateral ocean life) is also controversial and concerning.

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Coastkeeper shared with us how the plant project will require structural protective barriers, such as seawalls, groins, breakwaters and other coastal structures, triggering an additional suite of costs and impacts to our state and coast. Look closely, and you can imagine those tides possibly effecting the plant.

“Desalination is already by far the most expensive option for an alternative water source and the added costs of distribution will only place an additional financial burden on rate payers,” said Coastkeeper sources. “Poseidon stands to make billions of dollars in profits over the 50-year life of the project.”

As you’ll see below, Noel captured PCH waves crashing quite close and already collapsing cliffs. It makes you indeed wonder about the site in the future.

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Some plant background:

In November 2013, the Commission denied Poseidon an approval to build the plant. Poseidon has already spent over $50 million to obtain project approvals. As they see it, they are in the home stretch, but if the Coastal Commission denies its last permit needed to start construction, its funds and years of effort go down the drain.

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So where should we get our drought-proof water instead?

Coastkeeper says it’s easy. “We can expand our stormwater capture and wastewater-recycling programs, especially in South Orange County. Hundreds of millions of gallons of stormwater and treated wastewater is dumped into the ocean every day. It doesn’t make sense to pay a billion dollars for a plant to suck in seawater when we can recycle wastewater and save over a billion dollars on a desalination plant and pipeline system while keeping our water bills lower.”

They added to that, sharing potable reuse is an efficient use of water that takes water already in our local water systems — it’s more affordable, uses much less energy and doesn’t kill marine life — in fact, it improves the water quality of our oceans by taking impurities out of the water — eliminating the need to discharge polluted waters into the ocean. A win-win in their minds.

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Bottom line is that we all, hopefully, just want the best for future generations, to respect the ocean and to protect the planet. OC Mom Magazine is not endorsing a side in this story, we simply hope to inform our readers of current situations.

So what say you? If you want to make a difference, here are three ways to consider to #SaveOurCoast

  1. Call the Governor at (916) 445-2841.
  2. 2) Email the Commission at StatusOfExecutiveDirector@coastal.ca.gov.
  3. 3) Share the information on social media, using #saveourcoast to keep the conversation going.

Whatever side you’re on, be kind and join the conversation respectfully and constructively.

Debbie

About Debbie

I’m a Jane of all trades. And master at many. As a career advertising writer, I’ve written for the top ad agencies in Orange County. I also write for many Orange County magazines. Finally, I’m hired as a Social Influencer and Brand Ambassador for various local OC brands. It’s a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of love for what I do with gratitude for those I work with. Learn more at debbieintheoc.com/#about .

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