Would you sip Gulf seawater? Study looks at potential of converting it into SE Texas drinking water

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Would you sip water from the Gulf? New study explores possibility
The Gulf Coast Water Authority signed onto a $731,000 study exploring converting seawater into drinking water, but it faces several challenges.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Gulf could soon be more than just a place to enjoy the beach. It could be how you get your drinking water.

Study explores new water source, but Gulf Coast visitors are hesitant

Galveston visitors enjoy swimming in the water, but the idea of using it as drinking water seems farfetched.

"It looks a little dirty," Pam Thomas said. "That's all."

Using saltwater as drinking water may one day become a reality. This summer, a yearlong study will take place, looking at using seawater as drinking water in southeast Texas.

"I would just not like that idea," Pam Thomas said. "Just saying. It might bug me a little bit."

"I would need to see the process," Mark Thomas added. "I would need to see the product. I would need to see some evidence before I make a judgment on that."

The Gulf Coast Water Authority is one of three agencies signed on to a new study to look at turning salt water into drinking water, a new source that would go to places like Galveston, League City, and Rosenberg.

Seawater-into-drinking water isn't new, but it's a complex process

Officials said the technology already exists, but it's expensive. The $731,000 study will determine if creating a new plant in southeast Texas would make sense.

"The water supply in Texas is finite," Jake Hollingsworth, Gulf Coast Water Authority assistant general manager, explained. "We have a limited amount of water, and it's really important for the state and us, too, to diversify our portfolios."

Turning this water into drinking water takes a lot of electricity. The water would receive a lot of pressure and then run through a filter.

Officials say the end product is one they've enjoyed in areas that already do this.

"It tastes like water," Hollingsworth said.

New process would take years to put into place

Officials said they need a long-term plan because they only have so much groundwater, an idea not just floating in southeast Texas.

"In Texas, specifically, the Corpus Christi area is looking at desalination," Hollingsworth said.

The study will examine the cost of a new desalination plant and its possible location. This plan would take several years.

"There's at least 10 years of work before we even start thinking about where we're getting water out of the Gulf, probably," Hollingsworth explained.

It's an endorsement not everyone is ready to swallow quite yet.

"I don't like saltwater in my boat, and I don't care for saltwater in a variety of ways except visiting someone else's place and keeping it in the Gulf," Mark Thomas said.

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