California town nixes desert surf lagoon plan amid drought

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California desert town has rejected a proposal for a surfing lagoon surrounded by hundreds of homes and hotel rooms after critics claimed it was the wrong one project in the midst of a punitive western drought.

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

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

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

“We are at a point in history where we cannot waste water freely,” said resident Laura Dolata.

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

At least four large wave pools or lagoons are on offer for the area around Palm Springs, which is best known for its arts festivals, mountain hikes, and golf.

The developers say the arid region about 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 regularly, but could benefit from a wave pool.

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

But some environmentalists and residents say it’s unwise to build large resorts in one of California’s driest places during one of its driest periods in recent memory. They argue that water from huge surf pools quickly evaporates 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 near Rancho Mirage. Two more wave pools are in the works in Palm Springs and Palm Desert, the Times reported.