The Corpus Christi City Council is opposing a $495 million loan request that the Corpus Christi Port Authority submitted to the Texas Water Development Board for its Harbor Island desalination plant project.
Following an executive session, the board unanimously passed a resolution at its regular meeting on Tuesday asking the port to withdraw its loan application and end all attempts to become a producer or distributor of ‘water. The resolution states that the city is the regional water provider because its water system serves nearly 500,000 Coastal Bend residents.
The deadline for applying for the loan was Feb. 1, and city officials learned the port was seeking the funds less than two weeks ago, Dist. 4 Councilman Greg Smith said at the meeting.
The app also lists the city of Corpus Christi as a water customer, Smith said.
“(It’s) an app that says (the Port) is going to sell this half a billion dollar project to the City of Corpus Christi, and the Port of Corpus Christi has made no effort, hasn’t asked the city, “Were you interested, would you be a customer, where are you” or whatever,” Smith said. “This is very disappointing from another entity.”
Dist. 3 Councilman Roland Barrera said the port would need a water customer to repay the loan funds. According to the city’s resolution, the port does not treat water and does not have certification to distribute water in Coastal Bend.
“One of the most important things for all of us is to have affordable and stable water tariffs for our residents. They didn’t show us any (water) pricing model,” Barrera said. “Committing to a half-billion dollar liability…without providing any type of pricing model to anyone is just irresponsible.”
The city has submitted permit applications to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to build desalination plants at the Inner Harbor Ship Channel and the La Quinta Channel.
In 2020, the city secured a $222.5 million loan from the Texas Water Development Board for its Inner Harbor project.
Corpus Christi Harbor Resolution
On Tuesday morning, ahead of the City Council meeting, the Corpus Christi Port Authority passed a resolution in support of “Corpus Christi City Seawater Desalination Initiatives.”
The resolution identifies the city as a water utility in Corpus Christi and Nueces and San Patricio counties.
The measure includes a directive from port staff commissioners to identify local government agencies and stakeholders and keep them informed of port and city permit status.
Commissioners also directed staff to engage in discussions with the city regarding the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed facilities.
Port plans to continue researching Texas Pollutant Discharge Removal System and otherwise accomplish “other milestones prior to designing, constructing and operating a desalination facility at Harbor Island.” “, indicates the resolution.
The seven-member council – three of whom were appointed by the city council to represent Corpus Christi – passed the resolution unanimously.
Harbor commissioners could not immediately be reached on Wednesday for further comment.
This is a developing story. Check Caller.com for updates.
Writer Chase Rogers contributed to this article.
Kathryn Cargo tracks business openings and developments while reporting on the impacts of city government decisions.Check out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe.