City leaders to vote on desalination loan

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – City council votes next week on whether to accept a loan to pay for a desalination plant in the city’s inner port along the Corpus Christi Channel.

However, the deal raises concerns.

“We don’t really see any options on how to do the desalination, we’re basically on a lane,” said Gil Hernandez, District 5 City Council member.

Tuesday’s vote is to approve the first $ 12 million of a loan of over $ 222 million from the Texas Water Development Board. The TWDB has approved the city through its State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (FAST).

Hernandez voted against the loan application and says he will vote against accepting it.

“I am not against desal; I think desal is an option, ”Hernandez said. “The way we do it, she has a few questions of his.”

Hernandez’s concerns stem from the fact that the city only got one estimate of construction costs.

“You wouldn’t have major surgery without a second opinion, no matter how good the doctor you work with,” he said. “You wouldn’t buy a car without doing price comparisons. “

Based on the cost of other desalination plants, both in the US and around the world, Hernandez believes the end cost will be much higher than the current supply. He also says that the average water consumer (based on 5,000 gallons / month) will see an increase of $ 2 / month to pay off the loan.

This is in addition to the increases planned to cover the city’s expenses. consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This puts a lot of pressure on the utility bill, and I want to make sure we don’t hurt our taxpayers more than we need to,” Hernandez said.

There are also environmental concerns. More specifically, the brine that will be poured into the canal. Desalination creates a gallon and a half of brine for every gallon of fresh water created.

“The secret to that is the dilution, as is the case with a lot of things,” Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s manager said. Harte Research Institute Larry McKinney. “If you can dilute that brine quickly, you reduce the potential impacts. “

The city estimates that any impact on the canal will be limited.

A statement from the city’s water department said: “The City of Corpus Christi works a lot with biology and environmental experts to maintain the salinity of our bay and preserve it for future generations. The City has spent years collaborating with the community and carefully planning this project. No taxpayer money is used to fund this project; we use a low interest SWIFT loan and our large customers contribute $ 0.25 per 1000 gallons used for almost two years. Seawater desalination provides a responsible, sustainable and resilient solution to our current water demands and trends for our region. “


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