CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — City leaders in Alice said plans for a desalination plant are making noticeable progress.
The desalination plant will produce about three million gallons of water a day from brackish water, which is taken from groundwater in an aquifer.
City Manager Michael Esparza told 3NEWS that Alice has a contract with a private company called Seven Seas Water Group to build the plant and provide a sustainable water source for their area.
Dorina Murgulet studies the interaction between surface and groundwater at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She said brackish water is typically pumped from aquifers in rural communities like Alice.
"For a city or a town that's not close to the sea, when we're talking about desalination it's usually from the ground water," she said.
Esparza said increasing their drinkable water will help provide for more than just Alice.
"There's some areas that we do provide water outside the city limits and having, you know, that kind of project can help expand a little bit more if we needed to," he said.
Esparza said Seven Seas Water Group will finance and maintain the plant for 15 years, removing salt in brackish water with single stage filtration. The city already produces more than 8.5 million gallons of water daily at its treatment plant. He said the city uses about 3.5 million gallons of water a day.
"The second part of that water project is helping with economic development, but that's not why we brought that in. That was brought in to be able to be self-sufficient, have a uninterrupted water supply," he said.
Alice currently sources its water from Lake of Corpus Christi, pumping it to Lake Finley and then into its water treatment plant. Esparza said water from the desal plant will eventually blend with Alice's current water supply. Murgulet explained brackish water, which is less salty than sea water but still requires treatment before drinking, will be pumped separately.
"In general, brackish water is not found in the sea, right, so it's found somewhere where fresh water and salt, sea water is mixing," she said.
Murgulet said the added water in Alice through desalination will also help provide water when there's not enough.
"Drought periods when we're almost running out of water, that gives, you know, that gives you another resource," she said.
Esparza said Alice is waiting for permit approval before they begin construction on the desal plant. The plant is scheduled to be completed and in operation in twelve to fourteen months.