Corpus Christi Targets 2023 to Start Inner Harbor Desalination Plant Construction
Feature Photo: Aerial view of a commercial vessel in the Corpus Christi Inner Harbor Ship Channel. Image: Google Earth.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Corpus Christi (Nueces County) — The design phase is expected to conclude and construction to begin in 2023 for the Inner Harbor Ship Channel Seawater Desalination Plant (SDP).
The city of Corpus Christi is scheduled to close on $222,475,000 of multi-year financing for the project by Dec. 2. The funds were approved Thursday by the Texas Water Development Board.
The city’s sole source of water comes from surface body waters–Lake Corpus Christi, Choke Canyon Reservoir, Lake Texana, and the Colorado River. In addition to supplying water to Nueces County communities, Corpus Christi delivers water to a vast stretch of Coastal Bend municipalities that extend as far north as Port Aransas and Rockport, beyond Kingsville to the south, and west to Alice, Three Rivers and Beeville.
Since 2015, Corpus Christi has been seriously looking at multiple seawater desalination options as an alternate water source to meet future demand. Options considered siting, product water quality, distribution strategies, management approaches, plant ownership and procurement strategies. In 2017, the city received a $2.75 million commitment from the state to conduct planning.
Discharge permit applications were submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for two desalination plant sites–one in the Inner Harbor Ship Channel and one by the La Quinta Channel (LQC) on the north side of Corpus Christi Bay. The La Quinta Channel SDP project is Project ID 2018-5273 in the VBX database.
The Inner Harbor Ship Channel Desalination Plant project is listed in the VBX database as Project ID 2020-576F.
As stated in the TWDB report of July 23, “Through the planning process, the City has determined that the first to be built would be the IHSC SDP with an initial capacity of 20 Million Gallons per Day (MGD) and an ultimate capacity of 30 MGD. In the future, as water needs increases, the LQC SDP would be built with an initial capacity of 20 MGD and an ultimate capacity of 40 MGD.”
That decision was report in a VBX May 1 article when Corpus Christi submitted its financial assistance application to the TWDB.
Partial Google Earth map of the Inner Harbor Ship Channel, highlighting the approximate location of the proposed desalination plant.
In January, the city submitted to TCEQ for the two proposed desalination plants: two Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) applications, two Diversion (water rights) Authorization requests, and a Concentrate Disposal White Paper in support of the TPDES applications.
Furthermore, as a result of the planning work, the city decided to procure the post planning phases as a Design-Build-Operate project. In this type of procurement, bidders typically have the flexibility of offering alternative designs to meet the project production goals.
The project includes completion of the permitting process for two seawater desalination plants, the acquisition of the site, design, and construction of the Inner Harbor Ship Channel SDP, which will be located on the south bank of the ship channel, approximately 1.5 miles from the channel entrance.
The Inner Harbor plant will have an initial capacity of 20 MGD. However, intake and discharge facilities will be designed to accommodate a future expansion to 30 MGD. The plant will be designed to produce potable water and it will be fully integrated into the city’s regional water system.
The design phase is to conclude June 20, 2023. Construction is to start Feb. 1, 2023 and reach completion Dec. 31, 2025.
The funding is being split as Series 2020 for $11,425,000, and Series 2021 for $211,050,000. Project expenditures, according to the budget, appear below in six general categories:
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.