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Group against proposed Harbor Island desalination plant

Posted: 7:36 PM, Aug 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-06 20:37:11-04

PORT ARANSAS – There’s growing opposition to one of the sites the Port of Corpus Christi proposed for a desalination plant.

A Port Aransas environmental group is against the Port of Corpus Christi's proposal to put a desalination plant on Harbor Island.
A Port Aransas environmental group is against the Port of Corpus Christi’s proposal to put a desalination plant on Harbor Island.

Harbor island is one of two sites the Port is considering for a desalination plant.  Port officials told KRIS 6 News last month the Harbor Island site would be used to provide fresh water for our area.

But The Port Aransas Conservancy is worried about the Port’s plan for Harbor Island.  They already oppose a proposed crude export dock there, now they’re speaking up against desalination.

“The overall theme here is the aesthetics, and the preservation of nature,” said Conservancy member Dan Pecore.

Pecore and other conservancy members believe a desal plant on Harbor Island would have a negative effect on Port Aransas both environmentally and financially.

“The effect this will have on frankly just about everything I can think of,” said Pecore.  “From fish larvae from where the spawning takes place to tourism.”

Most agree the Coastal Bend needs to find a viable, long-term solution to the region’s water shortages.  Many, including Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb believe desalination is the answer.

“We face a water crisis and we have to look options,” said Dr. Greg Stunz, Marine Biology Professor at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Stunz is also in favor of desalination, but he says the proposed Harbor Island site poses a threat to marine life and their habitat as water flows in and out of it.

“You have millions of tiny larval fish, crabs, and other crustaceons moving through that area which have the potential to be either taken in through intake,” said Stunz.  Or what were most concerned about, the brine discharge and having to go through that area.”

Stunz believes the best solution is to move a desalination plant offshore.

“That minimizes the environmental damage,” said Stunz.  “I think if that type of activity occurred in that design, especially if it was offshore, you would minimize a lot of this controversy.”

Moving a plant offshore would also make the Port A Conservancy happy.  However, they are willing to compromise.

“If worst comes to worst, the minimum would be the discharge flow would be out into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Pecore.