City council reviews private sector desalination plant proposals

In 2018, 10 private companies presented to Corpus Christi City staff their proposals for alternative water sources for the city.

The city never asked for more information, including costs, about the companies’ proposals.

However, the city is still seeking a loan of $ 222.5 million from the Texas Water Development Board to build a seawater desalination plant in the inner harbor of the Corpus Christi Channel.

City council members Rudy Garza, Gil Hernandez, Ben Molina and Paulette Guarjardo want to know more about the proposals of private companies. They submitted a request to add the 2018 private sector presentations to the September 29 agenda.

At its regular Tuesday meeting, council approved the request. The municipal staff will make a synthetic presentation of the 10 companies’ proposals.

Engineering firm Freese and Nichols is looking for sites for two seawater desalination plants in Corpus Christi.

The motion was approved with an amendment from General Council member Hernandez to allow companies to provide more information directly to the council if they wish, virtually or in person.

City staff will also provide an update on the Corpus Christi Port’s desalination permit application.

Here are the companies:

  • Consolidated Water Co Ltd
  • Corpus Christi Civic Leadership Group
  • IDE Americas, Inc.
  • Poseidon Water LLC
  • Poseidon Water – Suez
  • Veolia Water North America – Central, LLC
  • Evangeline / Laguna LP
  • Seven Seas Water Corporation B

Why pursue a desalination plant?

Corpus Christi is a water supplier for seven counties with a combined population of over 500,000 people, said city manager Peter Zanoni.

The city has experienced major droughts for decades, one of the worst from 2011 to 2013.

And within two and a half years, the Corpus Christi area is expected to reach 75 percent of the farm water supply yield, or the maximum amount of water that can be guaranteed during a critical drought.

To combat this, city officials have been planning to build a seawater desalination plant for about a decade, Zanoni said.

In August, the board authorized a financing deal with the Texas Water Development Board for an $ 11.4 million loan to begin the licensing process for one of the two desalination plants.

The total amount of loans the city could get through the state agency to build a desalination plant is around $ 222.5 million.

The authorization of the financing agreement was voted with six members of the council voting for and three against. Council members Guajardo, Garza and Hernandez voted no.

All three said they support desalination, but not the way the city is pursuing it. They want to look at options other than the government big loan, including a public-private partnership.

Other council members, including Mayor Joe McComb, who backed the action, say the loan is a good opportunity not to be missed. They also think it’s cheaper than a public-private partnership to finance and build the plant.

Zanoni said the planned desalination plant would be the first of two ventures by the city. The other site under consideration is in the LaQuinta Canal in San Patricio County.

Kathryn Cargo tracks business openings and developments while reporting on the impacts of city government decisions.Check out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe.

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