Desalination protests grow in Corpus Christi
Five candidates for Corpus Christi City Council formed a People’s Platform group to oppose building two desalination plants in the city. The group held a media conference outside of City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 29, after a council meeting. During the meeting, council members heard presentations from 10 companies with plans for alternate water sources. Six of those were desalination.
Candidates opposing the desal plants, which have become a central issue in the upcoming City Council and mayoral election, are Eli McKay of District 1, Sylvia Campos of District 2, Jim Klein of District 4, and at-large councilors Deanna King and Liz Perez.
The field for the Nov. 3 City Council election is large. A total of 35 people are running for the nine seats: 10 have filed for mayor; 13 for three at-large seats; and 12 for five district seats. Only one incumbent, Everett Roy of District 1, did not file for re-election.
ln a regular meeting on Aug. 25, the council voted 5-3 to authorize $11.4 million in financing to begin the permitting process with the Texas Water Development Board. The total cost is $222 million. Much of that will be financed by the board.
The city has also hired the firm Freese and Nichols to assess the two chosen sites, one in LaQuinta Channel in San Patricio County and the other in the Inner Harbor of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
Voting against the application were Paulette Guajardo, Gil Hernandez, and Rudy Garza.
Guajardo is one of the 10 candidates for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Joe McComb supports desalination. A third big name in the race — Nueces County Commissioner and former City Council member Carolyn Vaughn — also opposes desalination. She called for a public hearing on the issue. The city has since set up a series of four virtual town halls.
“Why ignore the many private companies who will accept the risk, finance, build in the right location, operate and maintain a facility at a lower and more efficient cost than the city,” reads an election post on the Elect Carolyn Vaughn Facebook page.
“For me, there are too many unknowns,” Guajardo said at the Aug. 25 meeting. “How do I look at someone and say, ‘Your bill’s going to go up, but I’m not sure how much?’”
Corpus Christi supplies water for more than 500,000 people in seven counties. The city is expected to reach 75 percent water supply firm yield — the maximum quantity of water that can be guaranteed during dry years — in 2½ years. Additional sources of water are needed to meet the growing demand, especially among industry customers, City Manager Peter Zanoni said.
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