11 votes

Corpus Christi sold its water to Exxon, gambling on desalination. So far, it is losing the bet.


  1. Thrabalen
    When you live in a state that's so far up the oil industry's ass, that you sign over water rights.

    When you live in a state that's so far up the oil industry's ass, that you sign over water rights.

    6 votes
  2. skybrian
    From the article: [...] [...]

    From the article:

    Five years ago, when ExxonMobil came calling, city officials eagerly signed over a large portion of their water supply so the oil giant could build a $10 billion plant to make plastics out of methane gas.

    A year later, they did the same for Steel Dynamics to build a rolled-steel factory.

    Never mind that Corpus Christi, a mid-sized city on the semi-arid South Texas coast, had just raced through its 50-year water plan 13 years ahead of schedule. Planners believed they had a solution: large-scale seawater desalination.


    Now the commitments city officials made over the past five years are coming due. Exxon’s plastic plant started operations this year and will eventually consume 25 million gallons per day, even as the region’s latest water plan foresees demand exceeding supplies in this decade.

    This summer, severe drought and heat pushed Corpus Christi into water use restrictions. Yet desalination plans remained years away from completion, hung up on questions from state and federal environmental regulators — the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — over the ecological consequences of dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of salty brine per day into Corpus Christi Bay.


    Regulators and scientists worry that each plant’s discharge of tens of millions of gallons of hyper-salty wastewater per day could disrupt reproductive cycles for a host of aquatic species, which rely on the half-salty waters of the coastal bays for their larvae to mature.

    All together, environmentalists say, the five plants’ discharge, coupled with the water pollution and ocean freighter traffic from the industrial boom they would unleash, may constitute a near-fatal blow for life in the bay, whose once-teeming ecosystems have nursed coastal communities since long before Corpus Christi existed.

    5 votes