ALICE — The city of Alice recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art water treatment plant that will provide a key resource for the future: a safe, dependable, and independent water source, delivered at a guaranteed price. When complete in the second quarter of 2024, the treatment plant will produce up to 2.7 million gallons of fresh water daily from an unwanted and abundant resource: the brackish water in the Jasper Aquifer.
The Alice plant combines both high technology and a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to provide a guaranteed supply of water at a fixed price. Seven Seas Water Group will build and operate the plant at their expense, and the city will only pay for the water it uses.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony on September 27, State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa emphasized the state’s commitment to expanding water resources, noting, “This public-private partnership in Alice could serve as a model for the rest of Texas.”
Like many Texas cities, the city of Alice faced rising water costs as sustained drought reduced the supply of available freshwater sources. Ten years ago, city leaders began looking for an alternative source of water and found the answer in an abundant and unwanted resource: the slightly salty (brackish) water in the massive Gulf Coast Jasper Aquifer, which spans from Louisiana to Mexico.
Brackish water is too salty for most agricultural use and too salty to drink without treatment. But with only 10% of the salt concentration of seawater, brackish water requires much less energy to purify with reverse osmosis technology. Reverse osmosis water purification involves forcing water through specialized membranes to remove larger particles, making it fit for consumption.
Alice City Manager Michael Esparza provided perspective on the amount of brackish water in the Jasper Aquifer, remarking, “Our region has more water than all combined lakes and surface water in Texas.”
Presently, Alice sources its water from Lake Corpus Christi, but this project signifies a shift towards greater autonomy and sustainability. The Seven Seas Water group brings decades of experience in decentralized water and wastewater treatment to the Alice project, and is currently operating more than 1,500 plants around the world.
The city obtained financial assistance from the State of Texas Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and has completed one of two wells that will provide water to the plant. Seven Seas shoulders the plant’s construction, maintenance, and operational costs.
Speaking on the importance of this collaboration, TX State Rep., J.M. Lozano stated, “Experts in water quality are not just building but running the plant. It showcases what can be achieved when public and private entities collaborate.”
And while Alice leaders worked for ten years to develop the solution to their water woes, cities across Texas can follow their lead and implement similar solutions quickly.
Seven Seas’ CEO Henry Charrabé views the partnership as a turning point in the Texas water crisis and the start of a new era of water security and reliability. “This forms a blueprint for water and wastewater infrastructure nationwide, particularly spotlighting Texas as a frontrunner.”
Built with high technology and a shared interest in success, the partnership creates a sustainable, affordable water source for the future.