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WATCH LIVE: Corpus Christi Water Utilities desalination forum

Time's up to leave your salty opinions on desalination plant
Posted at 1:40 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 14:40:35-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi Water Utilities is presenting a detailed review of seawater desalination Wednesday.

The city says this meeting will be a continuation of the first workshop on April 26 with updated and new information. You can watch it live in this article. (refresh)

The conference is slated to begin at 2 p.m. from the City Hall Council Chambers at 1201 Leopard Street.

Mayor Paulette M. Guajardo, City Council, and City Manager Peter Zanoni will join the Water Utilities Staff for the presentation.

According to a press release from the city, this seawater desalination project has been ongoing since 2011.

Corpus Christi City Water Utilities CEO Mike Murphy told council members in Tuesday's meeting that the permitting process for Corpus Christi's desalination effort has taken a huge step forward.

Murphy, who is spearheading the city's desalination efforts, told council members on Tuesday that documentation that's a major part of the permitting process has been sent to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

That's the next step in getting permits approved for the inner harbor and the proposed La Quinta desalination sites.

Murphy told the council that there are now four permits pending at the TCEQ.

The city says the plant is key for growth, but environmentalists and anti-industrialists think it's a bad idea.

"It’s mostly persons are concerned about industrial growth," city manager Peter Zanoni said of the comments that had come in ahead of Thursday's deadline. "And they’re saying, ‘we don’t want any more industry, and so because of that, then don’t produce water.'"

Zanoni says a desalination plant along the La Quinta Channel could produce 20-million gallons of water a day which he says is needed to support a growing number of people and industries.

But some people are concerned that the byproduct from the plant would be toxic when released back into the channel.

“The amount of brine that goes in there and all the discharge is going to kill all the seagrass and sea life," Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association president Patrick Nye said. "It’s going to ruin this part of the bay, and that expands into Corpus Christi Bay. And that affects everyone in the Coastal Bend.”

The city is confident the plant would not harm the environment, and they say more potable water will lead to new businesses -- and therefore more jobs.

“We still hear parents tell their children, ‘all you’ve got to do is get to 18 (years old), then you can leave.'" Zanoni said. We don’t want that, right? We want our families to stay here. We want to attract people that can work in industry, but that can work in white-collar education-type jobs as well."

Zanoni says the city has been working on creating a desalination plant for the better part of a decade, but Nye says there are better alternatives for meeting the city's need for water.

“There’s groundwater," Nye said. "You can go and get all the — 25-million gallons a day right now with groundwater up near Sinton."

If you missed Thursday's deadline to comment on the intake permit for the La Quinta Channel desalination plant, Zanoni says there will be a community meeting on the issue in "a couple of weeks."

He hopes people will see the benefits of such a plant and not share the concerns of Nye and others.

“The term ‘desal’ and the whole notion of this can be scary to the community," Zanoni said. "What I like to tell people is that really this about our future. We’re at a point where supply is close to equaling demand, and we need more water."