Approval to build and operate seawater desalination plants can take years, from conception to technical studies to public feedback and government approval.

Officials from the city of Corpus Christi and the port of Corpus Christi have stated that they have therefore started these processes for four potential desalination sites long before a new water source is expected to be needed.

According to representatives of both companies, the approval of four sites does not mean the construction of four desalination plants.

On Wednesday March 21, 2019, children will play at Roberts Point Park in Port Aransas across the canal from Harbor Island.  The Port of Corpus Christi has proposed a billion dollar project for an oil terminal on Harbor Island.

Why do you need permits?

Two permits are required to advance one of the proposed seawater desalination projects – water rights and water quality.

Water rights permits allow a certain amount of water uptake – as suggested locally, seawater either drawn from areas of the bay and the ship’s canal or possibly offshore in the Gulf – for it to be processed.

See the state’s regional water plan for the coastal bend

After the water has been desalinated, what was removed from it is considered waste water. A large part of it is the so-called saline solution, a salty concentration.

With water quality permits, certain amounts of wastewater can be disposed of in certain places, e.g. B. at certain points in the ship’s canal.

Here is a breakdown of permits for four proposed desalination plant locations:

City of Corpus Christi

Inner harbor

Water rights permit

  • Application: WRPERM 13676
  • File number: 2020-1559-WR
  • Proposed water rights: If approved, the permit would allow the diversion and use of up to 93,148 acres of water per year from the Corpus Christi Ship Channel
  • Water production: The capacity of the proposed plant would be expandable from 10 to 30 million gallons of drinking water per day
  • Purpose: Municipal use, including “Residential, Commercial, Manufacturing, and Institutional Customers in Aransas, Kleberg, Nueces, and San Patricio Counties”.
  • Status: The comment period ended on April 1st. After the public comment period, the executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality makes a preliminary decision on the permit and responds to questions raised in public comments in a letter.

Water quality permit

  • Application: WQ000528900
  • File number: Not issued
  • Proposed relief plan: At maximum capacity, up to 62 million gallons daily unload into the Inner Harbor Ship Channel
  • Status: Application under technical examination at the TCEQ. If the request passes review, a preliminary decision will be made and published, which will open another 30-day window for public comments and meeting requests.

The port of Corpus Christi has proposed a billion-dollar project for an oil terminal on Harbor Island.

City of Corpus Christi

The fifth channel

Water rights

  • Application: WRPERM 13675
  • File number: Not issued
  • Proposed water rights: If allowed, up to 186,295 acres of water per year could be diverted from the La Quinta Canal and used
  • Water production: Proposed facility capacity between 20 million gallons to 40 million gallons per day
  • Purpose: Municipal and industrial use in the counties of Nueces, San Patricio and Aransas
  • Status: Announcement of the application by post on March 19th. Public comment period open; closes after an expected public meeting. The meeting has not yet been planned by TCEQ, according to city officials.

Water quality permit

  • Application number: WQ0005290000
  • File number: None issued
  • Proposed relief plan: When the facility is at its maximum capacity, Corpus Christi Bay will generate 69 million gallons of runoff per day
  • Status: Use under TCEQ Technical Review. If the request passes the technical review, a preliminary decision will be made and published, which will open another 30-day window for public comments and meeting requests.

More:Here’s why some officials say the city should start spending on desalination now

Corpus Christi port

The fifth channel

Water rights permit

  • Application: WRPERM 13630
  • File number: 2021-0421-WR
  • Proposed water rights: If approved, the permit would allow up to 101,334 acres of water to be drained from Corpus Christi Bay per year.
  • Water production: The proposed facility’s capacity is 30 million gallons per day but is scalable “so it can be built and expanded to meet the additional water needs when they go online.”
  • Purpose: Industrial use in San Patricio County
  • Status: Comment period ended on March 29th, TCEQ-Docket was published on March 30th. A public meeting is planned, according to TCEQ, but not yet planned.

Water quality permit

  • Application: WQ0005254000
  • Proposed relief plan: Up to 57 million gallons per day discharged into the La Quinta Canal in Corpus Christi Bay.
  • Status: According to port officials, the feasibility study on the alternative disposal of brine is being suspended.

Roberts Point Park in Port Aransas across the Harbor Island Ship Canal on Wednesday March 21, 2019. The Port of Corpus Christi has proposed a billion dollar project for an oil terminal on Harbor Island.

Corpus Christi port

Harbor island

Water rights permit

  • Application: Not filed
  • Water production: Capacity of the planned facility 50 million gallons of water per day
  • Proposed water rights: Port officials say they are planning to take water offshore in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Purpose: Industrial and municipal use

Water quality permit

  • Application: WQ0005253000
  • Proposed relief plan: Up to 110 million gallons of runoff a day into the bay
  • Status: Following a contested hearing, the Administrative Law Judges issued a preliminary recommendation in February that TCEQ should reject the requested permit, citing the likely adverse effects on the Bay System. According to a letter submitted by the administrative judge on Friday, the proposed decision is ready for examination. There is no specific time frame within which the commission from TCEQ is required.

Sources: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, City of Corpus Christi, Port of Corpus Christi Authority and Coastal Bend Region N, Regional Water Plan 2021

To comment during public comment periods:

Written comments can be submitted online with application approval at https://www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/.

Comments can also be mailed to the Chief Clerk’s Office, TCEQ, Zip Code MC-105, PO Box 13087, Austin, Texas 78711-3087

Public meetings, if planned

For questions about the approval process: 800-687-4040

Kirsten Crow covers government, industry and development in South Texas. Support more local journalism like this one with a subscription.