The use of brackish water is not a new phenomenon for Texas. It was first identified as a supply strategy in the 2007 State Water Plan, and by that point, 80 desalination plants were already operating around the state.
However, there has been a consistent debate about the pros and cons of its use.
One side claims that brackish water is going to be a part of the solution to Texas’ water challenges and that the salty resource could sustain the state for more than 100 years.
The other side says that there should be more research on the effects of brackish water desalination.
Water Online reports:
“Frazier said using brackish water is a no-brainer.
“We need a logical, clear-cut way to make use of this resource,” Frazier said, per the report. “As the state is experiencing this long-term drought, we have to have a way to take care of this issue. Using brackish water would seem a logical step. So, ‘No you can’t’ is really not a very good answer.”
But environmentalists say there should be more research on the effects of brackish water desalination.
“Groundwater districts have enacted different rules to protect themselves from these possibilities. But the lines that delineate groundwater districts have been drawn on the surface and cannot stop actions outside the districts from affecting underground aquifers, which extend beyond their boundaries,” the report said.”
The only downside is that the required testing is expensive and although the use of brackish water is a valid supply solution, getting everyone to the point where they can agree will be a very real challenge for the State of Texas.
Inframanage.com notes that the availability of suitable freshwater in drought-prone areas is becoming a major issue for many states, municipalities, utilities, and towns.
There are no easy answers, and alternate water sources such as Texas’ proposed use of brackish water can be expensive long-term solutions.
Long-term water management plans and agreements are likely to become required by legislation, as well as requirements for municipalities and utilities to demonstrate efficient use of water resources.
These likely requirements will have ongoing effects on water infrastructure asset management practice.
A few examples:
- Demand planning and management will be required within the constraints of agreed water infrastructure asset management plans.
- Assets will be required to be maintained in good condition to minimize water loss due to bursts and leaks.
- Public education and information campaigns will be ongoing to encourage water conservation, the efficient use of water, and not wasting water.
States and cities that have had to manage restricted water resources for some time are a great place to look for good infrastructure asset management practice examples.