A desalination plant proposed near Doheny State Beach was unanimously approved Wednesday, March 9, for the first of three necessary state permits, sailing through the San Diego Regional Water Control Board hearing in three hours with no major concerns raised by either the board or the public.

That’s a sharp contrast to the regulatory scrutiny — and extensive public opposition — for Poseidon Water’s much larger desalination proposal up the coast in Huntington Beach, reflecting numerous differences between the two plans.

Wednesday’s approval could signal a smooth regulatory path ahead for the Doheny project, proposed South Coast Water District. But the small district continues to seek financial partners among neighboring water agencies — and beyond — in order to bring down customer costs.