California city nixes desert surf lagoon plan amid drought

Sep 22, 2022, 4:38 AM | Updated: 4:41 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California desert city rejected a proposal for a surf lagoon surrounded by hundreds of homes and hotel rooms after critics argued it’s the wrong project in the midst of a punishing Western drought.

The city council in La Quinta, near Palm Springs, voted unanimously on Wednesday against a zoning change that would have permitted construction of the Coral Mountain project, including 600 homes and a hotel with up to 150 rooms.

The 12-acre wave basin would have required 18 million gallons of water to fill.

During a meeting lasting more than six hours, opponents cited concerns about the water use as well as light and noise, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“We’re at a point in history where we cannot be freely wasteful of water,” said resident Laura Dolata.

Developers say the project would use far less water than local golf courses.

At least four large wave pools or lagoons are proposed for the region around Palm Springs, which is more commonly known for art festivals, mountain hikes and golf.

Developers say the arid region some 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles is home to many avid surfers who don’t live close enough to the beach to catch a wave on a regular basis, but might enjoy a wave pool.

Local water district officials have said there’s enough water in a 20-year plan to support the new pools and resorts.

But some environmentalists and residents say it isn’t water-wise to build large resorts in one of the driest spots in California during one of its driest periods in recent memory. They contend water in the massive surf pools will evaporate quickly in the desert heat, wasting a precious resource.

Another proposed 20-acre surf lagoon has been approved by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, while construction has begun on a Disney development with a 24-acre lagoon in nearby Rancho Mirage. Two other wave pools are in the works in Palm Springs and the Palm Desert, the Times said.

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California city nixes desert surf lagoon plan amid drought