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Harbor Island desalination plant: environmental group shares latest concerns

Posted at 2:16 PM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-18 19:47:44-04


As a proposed desalination plant moves closer to actually being built, an environmental group is expressing concern and frustration.

Members of the Port Aransas Conservancy believe building the plant is not in the town’s best interest.

“Well my concern is that it’s the absolute wrong thing to do,” said Cameron Pratt, a member of the environmental group.

Her and others fear that a plant so large in size being built on Harbor Island, could be harmful to fish and the waterways.

Initially, researchers at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute were worried about the placement of the water intake pipes in the ship channel.

“Some very important fish species all have to come right through that pass (ship channel),” said Dr. Edward Buskey, a professor and researcher at UTMSI. “So it really wasn’t an ideal spot for a large volume of intake seawater.”

In January, the Port said intake pipes would be moved offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. However, environmental groups say the discharge brine into the channel could still have devastating impacts.

“It would be detrimental,” said Pratt. “It could kill off the fishery… It’s what this town relies on.”

Pratt says there could also be an impact on the environment and air quality.

“It’s going to be loud,” said Pratt. “So you’ll have noise pollution. We’ll have light pollution. We won’t have dark skies, that’s for sure.”

But now, institute researchers continue their studies about how the plant’s water is released in the area. Meanwhile, Pratt says the proposal is still a concern for a town whose tourism is a large part of their economy.

“This is a fishing town. This is an ecotourism town,” said Pratt. “And if we destroy the environment, we’re toast.”

The proposed desalination plant will be discussed during tomorrow’s meeting of the Port Commission. It begins at 9 a.m. at the Ortiz Center.