MWH selected for 250 MGD Texas desalination study

MWH Global has been selected by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) in Texas, USA, to carry out the feasibility study to assess the development of ocean water desalination of up to 250 MGD (950,000 m³/d) as a regional water supply, including the option of co-located power generation facilities.

This would dwarf the Carlsbad and Huntingdon Beach projects, currently progressing in California, which will each be only 50 MGD (189,000 m³/d).

MWH was one of 16 teams representing 64 national and international firms to initially respond to GBRA’s request for qualifications (RFQ), which was publicly posted in September 2012. The Texas General Land Office agreed to partner with GBRA and will contribute toward funding the study.

“This feasibility study will have to consider and evaluate many factors, such as plant location, most effective and efficient water conveyance system, fuel source, safe brine disposal and other environmental issues, economic issues and construction timelines,” said James L Murphy, GBRA executive manager for water resources and utility operations.

“We anticipate that this feasibility study could take up to 20 months to complete,” said Gary Asbury, GBRA’s manager of project engineering and the client project manager for water on the IWPP. “While we will have to wait to see what the feasibility study determines, it is anticipated that the fully expanded project could yield up to 250 MGD of desalinated water to serve the region.”

In order to develop the RFQ, GBRA consulted the director of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute, Dr Les E Shephard, who also holds the Robert F McDermott Distinguished Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Shephard, who will serve as client project manager for the overall project, said the independent water and power project could potentially generate as much as 3,000 MW of electricity at full capacity that will help mitigate impacts from growing power needs across Texas. Already power officials are predicting potential “brown-outs” across the state in the face of prolonged triple-digit temperatures that could hit this summer.