Today, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved a request from the City of Corpus Christi for 222,475,000 in multi-year financing from the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for a desalination plant in the Port of Corpus Christi's Inner Harbor Ship Channel near Port Aransas.
As part of a multi-phase project, the funds approved today are expected to cover costs to both the design and construction of the desalination facility.
In 2017, the City had received 2.75 million in financing from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to find a site and prepare permits for two plants for the project. The Inner Harbor desalination plant will be the first to be built while the second plant will be built in the future near the La Quinta Channel in San Patricio County. Ultimately, the two desalination plants are estimated to have a combined capacity of 70 million gallons of water per day.
The desalination facilities are considered to be the key to providing a reliable, sustainable water base for future economic development and jobs in the region. As the regional water supplier for more than 500,000 people and various businesses along with the rising demand from large industrial customers, Corpus Christi devised a long-term plan to meet the area’s water supply needs. The long-term plan needed to ensure that City's total water supply capacity exceeded water demand by 25 percent to accommodate the large demand increases from industrial users.
Within the last ten years, desalination plants have gained some acceptance as an alternative source of water. In 2014, Senator Hinojosa was a member the Joint-Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination. This lead to Senator Hinojosa becoming a sponsor of House Bill 2031 in 2015, a significant piece of legislation for desalination projects. The legislation required the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to adopt rules to allow seawater to be treated by a desalination facility to be used as public drinking water as long as it meets Health and Safety Code standards. The legislation also allowed entities to obtain permits to divert and use seawater in accordance with rules established by TCEQ.
"Water security is one of the most pressing social and economic challenges of our time. The future prosperity of Texas depends heavily on the availability of water. Converting our seawaters into fresh water, already common in South America and the Middle East, is an important component of any solution to Texas' water shortages and rising demand," said Senator Hinojosa. "I applaud the City of Corpus Christi for their proactive approach to ensure future generations have a sustainable water supply. By securing the SWIFT loans, the City will have the water infrastructure necessary to support the future prosperity of our economy."