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Port of CC applies for Harbor Island desal permit

A map of Harbor Island at Port Aransas with the site of the Port of Corpus Christi’s proposed seawater desalination plant in yellow. The port is requesting an intake permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the plant. Courtesy image

Port of Corpus Christi commissioners took another step toward building a seawater desalination plant on Harbor Island with a Jan. 17 vote to request a water intake permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The 5-2 vote to apply includes paying the TCEQ $62,025 in permitting charges.

The state agency approved a discharge permit for the plant in September 2022, but the port needs both permits to move forward with the project.

Commissioners Diane Gonzales and Wes Hoskins voted no on the action. Gonzales asked to delay the vote, citing a recent move by an environmental group, the Port Aransas Conservancy, to request a rehearing on the discharge permit. Thus far, the TCEQ has not acted on the request.

The plant’s federal approval faces an uncertain future. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has objected to the permit since 2021, saying the application was not sent to it for review and did not include possible impacts on aquatic life.

In a letter to the TCEQ, dated Jan. 19, the EPA stated it “continues to view this permit as a draft permit and not an effective National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for CWA (Clean Water Act) purposes."

The Harbor Island plant, projected to open in the 2030s, is designed to process 50 million gallons of water per day.

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