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Environmentalists want to share concerns on desalination plants with public

Posted at 7:56 AM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 08:56:06-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — In today's City Council meeting, the council members will authorize the City Manager to submit applications and fees to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for water rights and discharge permits for two seawater desalination plants. What the City believes will be the backbone to our regional water supply that could carry the region into the future. But, some environmentalists feel the public should be more informed on these desal plants and the concerns that come with them.

Neil McQueen, Vice Chair of the local Surfrider Foundation chapter, says their organization is just one of many under the Coastal Alliance to Protect Our Environment, or CAPE. CAPE will be holding a press conference at 9 a.m. near the Art Center, to discuss their disagreement with the desalination plants. During this Press Conference, numerous organizations will discuss the effects that desalination will have on Corpus Christi Bay.

"A lot of people come to corpus Christi for our waterfront and for our bays, and this is the golden goose. So it's not a toilet," McQueen said.

He says there are many concerns with these plants, like how energy intensive they are. The entrainment of fish and other marine life, as well as the impacts from brine discharge, which is water heavily concentrated with salt.

The Inner Harbor desal plant will intake 12 million gallons of water per day; La Quinta Channel, 20 million gallons per day.

McQueen says the cumulative impacts from the proposed desalination plants in combination with all other pollutants from new factories are big concerns for the bay as well as the local atmosphere. Another concern McQueen asked, who will be paying for these plants? He says, it seems to be the taxpayers.

The City's Water Resource Manager, Steve Ramos said, "A project like this, does cost. And we are doing our due diligence, to make sure that we're doing everything to bring that cost of water down."

Ramos says the desal plants will be used as a back-up, and drought-proof water supply for the region. There are still many factors that need to be discussed but says moving forward is in the best interest of the city.

The press conference with the environmental groups is open to the public and McQueen states they will be at the City Council meeting for public comment at noon.