Though the Corpus Christi Seawater Desalination Project has been met with contention since it was introduced, an organization is pushing for its fate to be decided by voters via a charter amendment with the City of Corpus Christi.
Thursday morning, a small group from For the Greater Good delivered what it described as thousands of signatures — boxes of them, altogether spelling “Let Us Vote On Desal” — were delivered in a wheelbarrow to city hall.
Isabel Araiza, a co-founder of For the Greater Good, wheeled that barrow to the city secretary’s office. She said during the pandemic, it’s been difficult for herself and others to actually be heard.
“We’re getting maybe a minute to do a call-in to voice our concerns," Araiza said. "You get 1000 characters in an email.”
She later said that those emails aren’t actually read out to the public.
“Desalination has the potential to impact the entire community, and so the entire community should have a say,” she said. “That’s all we’re asking for — we want the citizens to be able to vote.”
The desalination project currently is nearing the end of Phase 2, which includes outreach. Phase 3, which includes procurement, design and construction, is set to take place from 2020 to 2025.
City of Corpus Christi Water Resource Manager Esteban Ramos said the city has been transparent with its plans from the beginning. Citing its website, he said those with concerns should try to learn more about the project.
“We’ve taken the steps to do a very due-diligence process where we meet with different organizations, from environmentalists to community groups to businesses, and educate them and communicate with them about this project,” he said.
Corpus Christi City Secretary Rebecca Huerta said charter amendments filed in her office require 5 percent of registered voters within the city, or 20,000 — whichever is smaller.
While it’s uncertain how many signatures were on that petition, Araiza and others are also pushing for city councilors to vote on the issue as well.