WATER DESALINATION: ONE ANSWER TO TEXAS’ GROWING WATER USE
In the late part of March, the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives appointed the House members for the Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination. I am pleased to announce that the Speaker has given me the honor of serving as Co-Chair of this important committee.
As many of you are aware, the Texas Legislature is not currently in session. The Texas Legislature constitutionally meets for 140 days every odd numbered year, which makes the next official session for the Texas Legislature to meet, January 2015. It is important to note however, that this does not mean that the Texas Legislature stops working. In fact, the period in between sessions, often referred to as the interim, is when the Texas Legislature identifies and studies the important issues facing the State of Texas in preparation for the next legislative session. This is one of the reasons I filed and passed House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 59. HCR 59 requested that the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Lieutenant Governor create a joint interim committee to study water desalination in Texas. The Joint interim committee is a joint committee composed of Texas House and Texas Senate members.
When we look at the growing population in our area and various economic development initiatives, there is an ever growing demand for access to clean water across the state. In addition, it is important that we identify the different components that relate to the use of water and find ways of trying to reduce the overall use and loss. According to the National Weather Service, about 90% of the water loss comes from evaporation. Due to this staggering figure, we also have to try and find other avenues to help the growing demand for water. One of the possible solutions is to develop and create salt water desalination facilities along the Texas Coast.
As many of you know, water desalination has been a topic of discussion in our area for many years. This is why I thought it was important that the State of Texas start taking a serious look at water desalination in our state. There are multiple types of desalination such as brackish ground water, brackish surface water, and seawater desalination. Below are some interesting facts about water desalination in Texas according to the Texas Water Development Board:
• Texas currently has an estimated total municipal desalination capacity of about 123 million gallons per day (about 137,760 acre-feet per year) which includes 73 million gallons per day (about 81,760 acre-feet per year) of brackish groundwater desalination and 50 million gallons per day (about 56,000 acre-feet per year) of brackish surface water desalination.
• In addition to municipal desalination, industrial desalination capacity in the state is estimated to be about 60 to 100 million gallons per day (about 67,000 to 112,000 acre-feet per year) mainly in the power and semi-conductor industries.
• The largest inland municipal desalination plant in Texas, the Kay Bailey Hutchison desalination plant in El Paso, has a design capacity of approximately 27.5 million gallons per day (30,800 acre-feet per year) and went into production in August 2007.
• The average cost to produce 1 acre-foot of desalinated water from brackish groundwater ranges from approximately $357 to $782.
• The average cost to produce 1 acre-foot of desalinated water from seawater is projected to range from approximately $800 to about $1,400.
All of this data is subject to change and the recent water desalination hearings have brought new information to the forefront.
If you are interested in water desalination in Texas, I highly encourage you to follow the Joint Interim Committee to Study Water Desalination. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about water desalination in Texas, I invite you to visit the Texas Water Development Board
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).
– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32
Rep. Hunter represents Nueces (Part) County. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 512-463-0672.