CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Desalination, removing salt from seawater for residential and industrial use, is a salty subject for environmentalists.
And despite reassurances from the Corpus Christi Water Utilities Department during a three hour presentation to the city council Wednesday that such plants would not cause harm, they're not convinced.
“There is nothing that they said today that satisfies us that desal in the closed bay system is a good idea,” Errol Summerlin from Coalition to Protect Our Environment said.
City council members received information about two possible sites for desalination plants, one at the La Quinta Channel and the other inside Corpus Christi Harbor.
Water Utilities Department leaders say the salty discharge from the plants would not significantly alter the salinity of Corpus Christi Bay water and therefore would not be hazardous to sealife.
Council member for District 5, Gil Hernandez, believes the science is accurate.
“Salt is already in the bay, and it’s already in the ocean," he said. "You’re not really doing anything like that."
What's concerning to Hernandez is the price of the plants that he fears would ultimately be passed down to taxpayers in their utility bills.
Both proposals would cost more than $200 million to build and millions more to operate and maintain. That's why Hernandez wants the city and the Port of Corpus Christi to continue studying desalination plants but also groundwater and other sources.
“I don’t want to close the door to anything," he said. "If we can diversify our water supply, let’s diversify. Let’s look at all possible options and ultimately at the best price.”
Environmentalists who believe the city's science is flawed agree with Hernandez.
“I think the city council needs to consider other alternatives,” Patrick Nye from Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch said.
Desalination plants have not received city approval nor the proper permits.
KRIS 6 News will continue to monitor their progress and bring you updates.