Executive Summary

Since 2002, Texas has supported investigating the potential for desalination as a water supply alternative. The goal of the Texas Water Development Board in publishing this Guidance Manual is to educate Texas communities about the emerging opportunities of brackish groundwater desalination. The abundance and distribution of brackish groundwater in Texas suggests this resource has significant potential. However, to meaningfully explore desalination opportunities, an understanding is required of basic water chemistry concepts, the differences among major desalination technologies, and the common project components.

This manual presents a sequential approach to developing a brackish groundwater desalination project in Texas in six phases: Conceptualization, Planning, Permitting, Design, Construction, and Operations. Additionally, the Texas Water Development Board selected the recently completed North Cameron Regional Water Project as an educational example for developing additional water supplies from brackish groundwater sources in Texas. At strategic points throughout the Guidance Manual, examples from the North Cameron Regional Water Project are highlighted to provide real-life scenarios for other communities considering desalination.

The Introduction discusses why Texas is motivated to seek additional water sources and what brackish sources are available. It also gives an overview of the Guidance manual.

The Planning Phase develops alternatives in greater detail to address critical engineering and financial questions. This information also helps satisfy the informational demands of the permitting and design phases.

The Permitting Phase identifies all permits and authorizations necessary for construction and operation of a brackish groundwater desalination facility.

The Design Phase involves effectively integrating the information, analysis, and decisions made during the previous phases into the material components of the project.  Of all the factors that influence the design process, the quality of the source water is the most significant.

The Construction Phase may be accomplished through a variety of project delivery methods, but success depends largely upon the level of experience held by the project engineers and contractors.

The Operations Phase for a brackish groundwater desalination plant differs from, but is no more complex than, that of a conventional water treatment facility. Primary differences include care for the membrane elements during start up procedures, process instrumentation and controls, and training needs for operator staff.


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