A group of Huntington Beach residents protested at Mesa Water District's meeting Tuesday night, trying to stop the district from working with Poseidon Resources.

To Mesa Water District President James Fisler's surprise, about 10 people were in attendance to voice their disapproval on the district's transparency of its operations and its decision to form a desalination advocacy group called CalDesal, which some from the protest group say has ties with Poseidon, which is building a plant in Huntington Beach.

Fisler said the monthly meetings usually don't get much of an audience.

"This project cannot go forward unless there is a take-or-pay contract; unless they can put taxpayers on the hook to pay back the bonds," said Debbie Cook, a former mayor of Huntington Beach. "We don't need the water. This is really for the economic benefit of those who benefit from the desal industry."

Cook explained that Mesa Water District would have to build new pipes that Poseidon would use to bring the water into Orange County and is adamant about lack of usefulness desalinated water has to offer.

"We have amazing alternatives. You can bank water up in the Kern [Water Bank Authority]. You can buy it for $20 an acre foot and bank it up there and then pump it down here when you need that water," Cook said. "You don't have to build a desal plant that has to be paid for whether you use it or not."

John Earl, editor of Surf City Voice, said he thinks building a desalination plant in Huntington Beach isn't helping the city and county with water conservation efforts.

"We just keep building and consuming until we devour ourselves," Earl said.

Mesa Water District general manager Paul Shoenberger said Poseidon may be using their pipes to pump water into Orange County but added the district isn't looking to purchase any water from Poseidon and won't even use it as a contingency option.

"We're simply looking at it as a local resource," he said.

Poseidon is in the works of building a desalination plant, but is still waiting for permission from the California Coastal Commission.

According to a previous Independent story, the facility is proposed to produce about 50 million gallons of drinking water per day.

In January, Poseidon released a draft outline that explains the parameters of the project, including the cost to purchase the water, according to a story by the Independent.

The estimated cost for an acre foot of water is $1,424, but costs are expected to go up after factoring in delivery costs.

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio