Commissioners in Hays County, Texas have backed a grant application that would fund a central Texas group’ s proposed study into the feasibility of building a desalination plant to supply water to parts of Hays and Travis counties.

The commissioners approved unanimously a resolution in support of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District’s efforts to secure the grant from the Texas Water Development Board.

Brian Smith, a hydrogeologist with the district, said much of the potable Edwards Aquifer water in the western portions of the two counties is separated from non-potable, heavily salinated water in the two counties’ eastern areas. Smith said the engineering challenges are “taken care of” so the chief concern is the cost.

The estimated total project cost is about US$ 560,000, Smith said. If approved by the TWDB, the grant would cover US$ 275,000 of the project, and the district would cover the remainder.

Smith said if the district receives the grant, it will build a test well near the Hays and Travis county lines to test the water in that area.

Any plans that include water pumped from eastern Hays and Travis counties will need to be vetted to ensure there are no adverse affects for other well owners, he said. Most studies indicate there is little connection between the portions of the Edwards Aquifer in eastern and western Hays and Travis counties, so he does not anticipate adverse affects.