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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Port of Corpus Christi Authority of Nueces County proposes to operate a desalination facility on Harbor Island near Port Aransas with an effluent discharge outfall 300ft from the shoreline into the Corpus Christi Channel at a rate not to exceed 95,600,000 gallons per day (see application details). The location of this discharge is within the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, an environmentally sensitive ecosystem. Numerous aquatic species, including but not limited to: blue crabs, menhaden, flounder species, shrimp species, red drum, trout, croaker, sea turtles, pinfish, pigfish, gafftopsail catfish, tarpon, tripletail and ling, utilize this coastal pass to reach their preferred habitats and food sources during various life stages.

The combination of increased water temperature and brine effluent at the discharge outfall could create an area of low dissolved oxygen content and pose significant risk to all manners of aquatic life, particularly winter spawning aggregations of sheepshead.

CCA Texas opposes this discharge permit for reasons mentioned above and we encourage our membership to lend their voice in opposition. You can file your personal comments by clicking here. Be sure to reference Permit No. WQ0005253000. Thank you for your efforts to protect and conserve our marine resources.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks Ed!
I think we can beat this Stevie. If there is to be a desalination plant the discharge must be piped offshore to defuse its environmental impact. The intake also needs to be offshore with a fish guard. Texas tidal flows are usually weak, unpredictable and the last thing Redfish Bay, Copano and the adjacent area needs is more salt- its often Hyper Saline now during drought periods.
 

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At 95,600,000 gallons a day, they must be going to mix it with sewage effluent?
Not that I am for it, as brine disposal is a major problem with desal. I just read an article about a chemical engineer in Qatar who has come up with a way to react pure CO2 with the brine to convert it to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) solving two problems.
Living in Florida, I have been interested in desalination as a way to save our aquifers, but pollution of one kind to try and solve another problem doesn't make much sense, so I hope we can figure out a way to solve the brine problem.https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/desalination-breakthrough-saving-the-sea-from-salt/
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
By Jay Gardner

...The TCEQ put out a notice that they were going to have a public meeting regarding the
proposed desalination plant that is proposed on Harbor Island later in the month in Aransas
Pass. Now, you loyal readers read last week that the Harbor Island site is off the block, but
it’s not completely out of the woods. Word on the street is that the Port may decide to go ahead with that location anyway. I’m not sure how that move would pan out. The public meeting
is supposed to be reset for some time later in March.

What really bakes my gourd is that the TCEQ, the state agency that is
supposed to be regulating effects to the environment, came out with a
statement in their public notice that reads that they “....determined that no
significant degradation of water quality is expected....” Now, I’m no marine
biologist (oh, wait, I am actually), but disposing over 95 million gallons a day
of hypersaline brine into our estuary is not the best idea. That’s 145 Olympic
pools a day of brine, or 6 pools an hour, or 1 Olympic sized swimming pool
every 10 minutes coming out of a single hose. That’s not going to be beneficial
to the billions of crab, shrimp, and fish eggs going through that area that are
dependent on lower salinities and good habitat. The impacts are immediate
(the eggs die) and cumulative (the eggs die every day) and it will dramatically
affect the local environment. I’m all for desalination, but let’s figure out a better
way to dispose of the brine...

excerpted from http://islandmoon.com/assets/772.pdf
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So, apparently there are 3 desal plants in the works if what I am reading elsewhere from a Flour Bluff annon is correct.

"The LaQuinta Channel project is still on track (they have an identified customer [Industrial] and a willing partner to go in for the power distribution costs).

The Harbor Island location suffered from no existing infrastructure, and little to no customer base for any of the produced water. All of the distribution infrastructure goes from the CC side of the Bay to San Pat County, and the Harbor Island location would have meant reversing that (on top of no power at the location).

The Inner Harbor one that made the City's 'Final List' uses the Nueces Bay Powerplant (in mothballs now) for a power source, and they have better options to tie into the distribution system."

My question is: If the water intake has to be 3 miles offshore to "avoid taking in fish larvae...", why can't the brine outflow be offshore (1 mile or 2 miles?), also?
 
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So, apparently there are 3 desal plants in the works if what I am reading elsewhere from a Flour Bluff annon is correct.

"The LaQuinta Channel project is still on track (they have an identified customer [Industrial] and a willing partner to go in for the power distribution costs).

The Harbor Island location suffered from no existing infrastructure, and little to no customer base for any of the produced water. All of the distribution infrastructure goes from the CC side of the Bay to San Pat County, and the Harbor Island location would have meant reversing that (on top of no power at the location).

The Inner Harbor one that made the City's 'Final List' uses the Nueces Bay Powerplant (in mothballs now) for a power source, and they have better options to tie into the distribution system."

My question is: If the water intake has to be 3 miles offshore to "avoid taking in fish larvae...", why can't the brine outflow be offshore (1 mile or 2 miles?), also?
Great question Ed. I'd love to see any input viewers may have on this topic.
 

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A question from the uninformed. What do they do with the salt/impurities they strip away from the sea water?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·


The aerial Stevie posted you can almost see all three proposed sites.


Portland below- I thought they were going to try to save a bit of the water front.


Wow...
 

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A question from the uninformed. What do they do with the salt/impurities they strip away from the sea water?
Salt and impurities end up in the brine that has to be disposed of. It's roughly about half of the flow of the influent seawater. That's why its disposal is a problem. It increases the local salinity where it's discharged.

The permit application for the desal plant can be found here:

http://www.portofcc.com/images/pccpdfs/news/2018/Permits/Harbor Island Permit Application.pdf

The evaluation of brine impacts was done by Amec Foster Wheeler, the engineering firm hired for the project. They used the model CORMIX to evaluate the effects of brine discharged into the Corpus Christi channel, assuming a discharge depth of 63 ft and a mixing zone. The modeling approach and model assumptions are in Attachment A of the permit application. It appears that TCEQ's modeling experts have reviewed and accepted the results.

Those opposing the desal plant might want to get familiar with the Tampa Bay desalination plant. It had epic construction and startup problems and cost over-runs, companies going bankrupt, etc. I think the final costs were triple the initial estimates. Wondering whether Texas tax payers would be on the hook for similar over runs if they occurred on these desal projects.

But state Port Authorities are among the most politically powerful entities in any state, they're almost certain to get this approved in some form or another.
 

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For perspective on 95 million gallons per day, one acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons. Every time the Port A tide level changes just six inches, a conservative 900 million gallons are displaced. The Harbor Island effluent pipe location next to the ferry landing is in an ideal deep water high current flow location for minimal impact. This is why UT and T A&M marine schools did not strongly object.
Concerning the big picture of delivering more water to the state of Texas, surface water from the Sabine and Mississippi River basins will/would have to be pumped out of those basins through existing and new canal systems and reservoir connections. Our Texas river water resources are near the max usage limit or over the limit if we include the minimum flow rates to our coastal estuaries. More surface water diversion is a not a viable option. Desalinization is the future. I have stated this before, but a fleet of D-9 bull dozers on a few thousand acres of coastal home developments and eliminating Federally backed flood insurance in storm zones is a much better cause to direct your emotions toward if you want more fish swimming in beautiful shallow water.
 

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I have stated this before, but a fleet of D-9 bull dozers on a few thousand acres of coastal home developments and eliminating Federally backed flood insurance in storm zones is a much better cause to direct your emotions toward if you want more fish swimming in beautiful shallow water.
Bingo.
 

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So, apparently there are 3 desal plants in the works if what I am reading elsewhere from a Flour Bluff annon is correct.

"The LaQuinta Channel project is still on track (they have an identified customer [Industrial] and a willing partner to go in for the power distribution costs).

The Harbor Island location suffered from no existing infrastructure, and little to no customer base for any of the produced water. All of the distribution infrastructure goes from the CC side of the Bay to San Pat County, and the Harbor Island location would have meant reversing that (on top of no power at the location).

The Inner Harbor one that made the City's 'Final List' uses the Nueces Bay Powerplant (in mothballs now) for a power source, and they have better options to tie into the distribution system."

My question is: If the water intake has to be 3 miles offshore to "avoid taking in fish larvae...", why can't the brine outflow be offshore (1 mile or 2 miles?), also?
You make a great point.

I think eventually clean drinking water will be a huge deal for this country, I agree with the offshore sentiment, but would add that it is not only possible but relatively easy, we lay sub sea all the time. A water line operating at atmospheric (open ended) service would not need/warrant/deserve near the scrutiny an oil or gas riser/transmission line would, so construction would be much cheaper. Just move the intake and discharge safely offshore in deeper water. They get the plant they want at a slightly higher const. cost and it doesn't hurt the estuary system. They could lay both lines at the same time, if they need higher intake capacity they can lay a couple lines for intake.

Question since you have a H2O bio background, isn't deep water offshore higher saline content anyway? So impacts would be less ?

Edit:
NVM just re-read and noticed end use was industrial, unlikely to aide ground water use...
 

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"Data obtained from the TCEQ for Buoy 16492 (located in Corpus Christi Bay) demonstrate this natural variation in ambient salinity. This data set, shown in Figure 4 below, shows a historic salinity variation between 3.06 and 40.9 parts per thousand. Since the proposed effluent modeling demonstrates the system effluent will increase the ambient concentration less than 1% beyond the aquatic life mixing zone, this increase is considered insignificant versus the natural variation and will not lead to the degradation of local water quality."

From the TCEQ permit.
 
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