RECENTLY ON THREE DIFFERENT OCCASIONS I was asked to give my opinion on a proposed desalinization plant, which was in the “seeking permit approval” process.
The proposed site was an area near Harbor Island on the Aransas channel. Some data says this is only one of five sites under consideration, but who do you believe?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, I knew more about the subject than I really wanted to let on. Everyone from the CCA to the CBGA, as well as local citizens, are unanimously against the site for the plant, or the plant itself. Being well acquainted with a few folks who are intimately involved in this process, I by default have some knowledge that many do not.
Why a desalinization plant? Because we (mankind) are horrible conservationists with our limited fresh water. Turn the faucet, flush the commode, water the grass, the water flows. It always has, it always will, right?
What happens when wells run dry, when the reservoir is empty, and no rain is falling, our tongues stuck to the roof of our mouth from thirst.
Three things are basic to life … 1) to breathe, 2) to drink, 3) to eat. Water is number two on the basic-to-life list.
Some say they will not drink a single drop of water that comes from desalinization. There’s a 90 percent chance they already have. An even higher percentage will within the next 10 years.
Been on a cruise ship or island vacation spot? Then you’ve been desalinized. Between 15,000 to 20,000 plants are in operation today and more are coming—many more if we don’t get a handle on our fresh water usage. Global climate change and deforestation is not helping either.
The two types of desalinization, RO (reverse osmosis) and Thermal (heat), at best yield about a 50 percent return. 100 gallons of salt water pumped in, 50 gallons of fresh water pumped out.
Not very efficient or appetizing, right?—until you are thirsty. If you’re thirsty enough, you’ll drink your own urine.
Our smartest and brightest have been doing it for years in space. Filtered urine is probably better for you than bottled water because we know what needs to be filtered out.
What happens to the other 50 percent, or rather the salt effluent left over after desalinization? Here lies the real issue with the process.
It’s not just salt brine, it’s effluent that can have a wide range of chemicals in it. Some are from saltwater taken in and some from the cleaning processes required to maintain the filters.
This includes chemicals such as detergents, scale inhibitors, biocides, de-chlorinators and hydrochloric acid, to name some. Think of a filter as a concentrator. What goes in is widely dispersed and less harmful; what exits is highly concentrated and has been shown to be harmful to humans and aquatic life.
If the outflow occurs in a bay system, then it’s a slam-dunk that it will affect the salinity level and even temperature level in that bay system. This does affect almost every form of aquatic life. It changes reproductive cycles and migratory habits. Some aquatic life might benefit, others suffer.
This is not mere conjecture. It has been studied extensively. The cost of outflow channel/piping is always a factor.
For example, it’s cheaper to extract salt water from the Gulf of Mexico and outflow it into the bay—less construction cost. For anglers the data and independent feedback show these plants usually have a negative impact on sport fishing and can be harmful to human health.
Super saturated saltwater negatively affects plankton and phytoplankton, which form the building blocks for all aquatic life. Desalinization is coming, not because there is no other option; but rather, like pollution and over-population, we (mankind) can’t seem to help ourselves.
The key to desalination is plant placement, intake and outflow studies and identifying environmentally sensitive areas. This is not a stand for or against desalination, but to stand informed.
T HIS TIME OF YEAR, I like the early morning and late evening hours. With a moving tide these hours can be very productive. Be careful of live bait, as the heat can devastate a bait bucket or live well. Change water often.
Copano Bay: Early morning, the grass lines just off Newcomb Point are a good place for free-lined croakers or live shrimp. Trout hang here as well as reds. Redfish Point is a good place for a few flounders. Use fresh dead shrimp worked across the bottom. Black drums frequent this area as well.
Aransas Bay: The shoreline of Goose Island is a good spot for reds using mud minnows on a light Carolina rig. Drifts down Traylor Island are good for trout using free-lined croakers. Slow drifts are best; set your anchor once the bite turns on.
St Charles Bay: The backwaters near Twin Creeks are a good spot for reds in early morning. Finger mullet work well here, free-lined. The east shoreline near McHugh Bayou is a good spot for gaff top and reds. Use finger mullet for the reds and fresh dead shrimp for gaff tops.
Carlos Bay: Wades down Cedar Reef are a good spot for trout, using a popping cork and shrimp. Black drum hang in this area as well. The west shoreline near Cedar Point is a good spot for reds and trout using free lined-croaker.
Mesquite Bay: The shoreline near Ballou Island is a good spot for reds using mud minnows on a light Carolina rig. Topwaters in bone and red colors work well here on calmer days. Unfortunately, Cedar Bayou is stopped up post Harvey, but trout still frequent the mouth of the bayou. Wades in this area can produce some nice trout using croaker free-lined.
Ayers Bay: Second Chain is a good spot for trout and reds using morning glory and nuclear chicken colored soft plastics, like sand eels.
GOOSE ISLAND shoreline is a good spot to a throw rattle cork and live shrimp. Trout, black drum and reds frequent this area. Wading this time of year is best. Find the transition to deeper water about 30 to 50 yards off shore and work the edge.
Email Capt. Mac Gable at [email protected]