By Ilyas Choudry, TMO
Recyclingâ€¦itâ€™s not just aluminum cans, plastic bottles and newspapers anymore. This countryâ€™s early recycling attempts were aimed at teaching Americans that recycling not only helped clean up the environment, but also helped curb waste.
Today, recycling is not just an environmental effort. For many communities in Texas, it can become a matter of life and death when water is involved. Many areas of the state are exploring recycling water from wastewater or salt or brackish water. And, as water supplies continue to dwindle and drought conditions become more and more extreme, alternative sources of water have become a priority for state and local governments and water suppliers.
There is a certain stigma associated with recycling wastewater. Therefore, desalination has become a more popular alternative being studied in Texas. The city of Corpus Christi is the latest to begin deliberating a desalination effort and is currently planning a demonstration project.
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus in March appointed four water-related legislative committees, â€œWater remains a top priority for the Texas House because it remains critical to the Texas economy and our quality of life,â€ he said, in appointing House members to the committees.
One of those committees, the Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination, has been charged with examining the status of seawater and groundwater desalination in Texas, as well as ways that expanded use of desalinated water could help meet Texasâ€™ needs. That committee, co-chaired by Rep. Todd Hunter and Sen. Craig Estes is holding three statewide hearings in June, beginning Monday. These hearings will lead up to an Aug. 5 Desalination Summit in Corpus Christi hosted by Hunter and a local Corpus Christi task force on water.
The city of Corpus Christiâ€™s demonstration is a result of working with the federal and state governments, local industry and the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation toward a demonstration desalination facility. The city has invited parties interested in participating in the project to submit a Technologies Information Request form by July 18 to outline the technology the companies would use to turn saltwater into freshwater, where they would build their plants, how much energy they would use and other related information.
The proposed facility will have a production capacity of approximately 200,000 gallons per day and will be operated over a 12-18 month period to obtain source water quality and equipment performance data that will be used to determine if a full-scale plant should be constructed.
Rep. Hunterâ€™s desalination summit is designed specifically to discuss local issues and solutions. The half-day event on Aug. 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be at the Town Club in Corpus Christi. The summit is free, but those planning to attend should register.
The legislative hearings include:
June 23, 10 a.m., Ortiz Center-Nueces Room, Corpus Christi; and
June 30, 11 a.m., the Kemp Center for the Arts, Great Hall – Wichita Falls.