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3NEWS exclusive: Port CEO Strawbridge addresses past desal friction with city

In a memorandum of understanding approved Tuesday, Strawbridge said commissioners affirm the city's position as the regional water supplier.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Desalination has been an ongoing topic in Corpus Christi as both the port and the city pursue plans for a drought-resistant water source. 

3NEWS spoke with Port CEO Sean Strawbridge, who said a memorandum of understanding between the two was approved Tuesday. 

"The MOU to work with the city on seawater desalination, and perhaps other water supplies, is something that I am particularly excited about and I've had some conversations with our city manager Peter Zanoni to that effect," he said. "And I think he shares in that excitement.".

In it, the port affirms the city's position as the regional water supplier, and both sides will continue to pursue permits for projects in the inner harbor and on Harbor Island.

It also gives the city the responsibility for operating a Harbor Island plant.

3NEWS' Mike Gillaspia sat down with Strawbridge to discuss the vital parts both the city and the port play in this pivotal process.

MG: Why do you think it is that up to this point, people have not seen you as allies, or even just competitors, but more as adversaries in bringing desalination to this region?

SS: We agree that water is an issue and water has to be solved for. We may disagree in certain areas on how to solve for water, but the good news is that we are talking and that's really the key -- getting everyone to the table and having everybody's voice be heard.”

MG: Some would say that the top three priorities of the port are desalination, desalination and desalination. You would challenge that, though, wouldn’t you?

SS: The Port of Corpus Christi is really an economic development agency. Our job is to build infrastructure that brings more investment to our region -- more job-creating investment, more investments that will yield more tax revenues to our local governments, so they can do the great things that they do for our roads, public safety, education. That's really the role of any port authority in the country or around the world.

Tuesday, Corpus Christi City Council directed Zanoni to develop a framework on how the port can help the city pursue desal and other water sources.

3NEWS contacted Zanoni and he told 3NEWS that the MOU offered by the port can be a starting point. He will report back to the council on the topic in mid-to-late April.

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