State Rep. Todd Hunter says there is no reason why the Coastal Bend cannot lead the nation in desalination technology, and he arrange a public briefing to discuss that Monday.

Hunter has authored legislation calling for an 18-month study on how the State's Water Board should be directed to make desalination a number one priority statewide.

About 200 people, more than twice the number of expected guests, showed up to hear Hunter, causing a delay while organizers found a bigger room.

Port Commissioner Charlie Zahn pointed out that industries at the Port already use 23 million gallons of water a day, and the Port almost lost a new industry because of a lack of available water.

"In Port A., we had a conversation the other day with an industry. They came in and said, 'We want to come into your area. We need three million gallons a day for our process,'" Zahn said. "We had to tell them we don't have it. So they've gone and reconfigured so that they can come in; but there's not an industry we have in our Port, there's not an industry that's coming in the future, that doesn't have tremendous water needs."

Experts say the cost of desalination could be as much as 300-percent more than the cost of transporting water from the lakes; but Hunter says that, by starting work now, Texas could be a leader in desalination technology in the near future.

"Right now we're in a drought. We don't know if it's going to end tomorrow, a year from now, five years from now or a month from now; but water desalination -- taking seawater, brackish water, making it fresh -- is a process we should be doing no matter what, because what it does is it ensures the future, of the families having water in the future."

Hunter said the study authorized by his bill could help set the mission for the Water Board in the future, and that would include the Coastal Bend in any desalination work.

Policy makers from Aransas, Hidalgo, Nueces, San Patricio, Kleberg, Travis and Atascosa counties were at the meeting, including a member of the Texas Water Board and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.