Desalination: Texas Set to Invest in Purifying Brackish Water

Along Interstate 35, between Austin and San Antonio, the Texas economic miracle is thirsting for water. Tight restrictions on the Edwards Aquifer and the high costs of pipelines are choking off the potential growth of homes and businesses.

But on one 2,000-acre tract of land north of New Braunfels ? still parched from last year?s drought ? Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson hopes he?s found the water needed to help end Central Texas? water crisis.

As chairman of the School Land Board, which manages the real estate portfolio of the state?s $26 billion Permanent School Fund, Patterson is investigating the feasibility of tapping into Texas? abundant brackish groundwater, desalinating it and selling it.

?We don?t need to live one step away from crisis and drought,? Patterson said. ?Texas may be short on water, but not innovation. Desal is part of Texas? water future and we?re going to start right here.?

Patterson said the General Land Office has contracted with experts to study the hydrology and geology of several Permanent School Fund tracts of land along the I-35 corridor. ?If the water is there, then I think the School Land Board is ready to invest the time and resources needed to deliver an entirely new and drought-resistant source of water for Central Texas,? he said.

Patterson said he hopes to develop a groundwater desalination model that could be replicated on other state-owned tracts of land all over Texas. ?Texas has an abundance of brackish water,? he said.
?This is a game-changer, a commonsense fix for the Texas water crisis.?

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