The following comments were submitted by Jim Klein on behalf of the Coastal Bend Sierra Club Group. The comments were for opposing the granting of the La Quinta Channel desal plant permit that was applied for by the City of Corpus Christi. This is TCEQ permit number WQ0005290000. Another message, almost identical to this one, was submitted to oppose the Inner Harbor desal plant, permit number WQ0005289000. The only difference in the two comments was the changing of the text "La Quinta Channel in San Patricio County" to "Inner Harbor in Nueces County".
I write today as the acting Chair of the Coastal Bend Sierra Club group in opposition to a permit for a desalination facility on the La Quinta Channel in San Patricio County applied for by the City of Corpus Christi. We recommend that the permit be denied because this facility will increase the salinity of Corpus Christi Bay, which will negatively impact plant and animal life in this body of water. Desal plants in the Tampa, Florida area and in the San Diego area discharge their salty brine into open waters so that the increased salinity can be dispersed relatively quickly. Corpus Christi Bay is a closed bay system--water remains in the bay for 1.6 years before exchanging with gulf water. This will allow the salty brine discharge to accumulate in CC Bay to a much higher degree than elsewhere. Additionally, this desal plant is only one of as many as six desal plants that will discharge brine into Corpus Christi Bay or the CC ship channel (which interchanges water with CC Bay). CC Polymers has received a permit for a desal plant on the CC ship channel, the City of Corpus Christi has applied for permits for two desal plants, the Port of Corpus Christi has applied for permits for two desal plants, and the city of Ingleside, Texas is considering a desal plant. On July 8, 2020 the engineering consulting firm Freese and Nichols, Inc. held a public meeting with environmental groups concerning this issue. Jorge Arroyo, a licensed engineer and an international authority on alternative water supplies, responded to a question about the cumulative effect of multiple desal plant brine discharges into CC Bay by stating that no one has conducted such a study and that someone should do so. To date, no such study has been conducted. Additionally, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has produced a study indicating that any increase in salinity will increase the likelihood and frequency of red tide algal blooms in CC Bay. Recent red tide events have caused large fish kills and have emitted toxins into the air that were sufficiently noxious to drive people away from the bay front. Based on these concerns, the Coastal Bend Sierra Club group recommends that the TCEQ deny the permit under consideration.