CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The City of Corpus Christi is getting closer to a seawater desalination plant on the Inner Harbor after Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioners' unanimously approved their water rights permit Wednesday in Austin.
This is the first water rights permit in the state of Texas that will utilize seawater for desalination for municipal use, city officials said in a statement.
"We are pleased with the TCEQ's decision on this project – a project that is not only important for Corpus Christi but for the region as well," said Mayor Paulette Guajardo. "The City of Corpus Christi is the water planner and supplier for 500-thousand people across seven counties in the Coastal Bend, and we are committed to providing a water source that is drought-proof and affordable."
City Manager Peter Zanoni is glad to move forward with the project but said their work is not over.
"This is a step forward for the City's desalination project, but there is much more work to be done. Our goal remains the same: to provide the community and region with a drought-proof water source," Zanoni said.
City leaders continue to be anxious to get the proposed $200 million desal plant project started.
"I think what we saw is that this drought we just had, which was almost a drought of record, really brought home the fact that we need alternate water sources in our great City of Corpus Christi for residential customers, for commercial customers and industrial customers as well," Zanoni previously told 3NEWS.
The TCEQ received the City's water rights permit application for Inner Harbor in January 2020 and issued public notice of the application in October 2020. In March 2021, TCEQ hosted a public meeting on the water rights draft permit.
According to Guajardo, the city's future economy depends on getting a desal plant built.
"Our economic development is very much connected to being able to say we have an uninterruptible source of water, we will not run out of water. And so today was a big step in that direction," Guajardo said.
The discharge application for Inner Harbor remains in review with TCEQ.
The City's other seawater desalination permit applications for water rights and discharge for a facility on the La Quinta Channel are also in review with TCEQ.
The Port of Corpus Christi is also working to get a desalination plant built there.
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