AUSTIN (KXAN) -
The water supply is running dry along Interstate 35 between Austin and San Antonio as the high cost of pipelines could stifle growth in the region, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said Monday.
Still parched from last year's drought, officials hope to tap into a 2,000-acre piece of land for the abundant brackish groundwater.
Patterson is looking to desalinate the water and sell it.
"We don't need to live one step away from crisis and drought," Patterson said. "Texas may be short on water but not innovation. De-sal is part of Texas' water future, and we're going to start right here."
The state's General Land Office has contracted with experts to study the hydrology and geology of quite a few Permanent School Fund tracts of land along the I-35 corridor.
"If the water is there, then I think the School Land Board is ready to invest the time and resources needed to deliver an entirely new and drought-resistant source of water for Central Texas," Patterson said, who chairs the School Land Board. "This is a game-changer, a commonsense fix for the Texas water crisis."
Developing a new source of water in Central Texas will benefit the community in a great way and will be seen all the way downstream, Patterson said.
It will potentially impact the rice farmers, petrochemical facilities, utilities and even the health of the state's bays and estuaries.
"Adding de-sal to the mix would help mitigate the impact of a drought on the Highland Lakes," Patterson said. "De-sal in Central Texas would help all the way to the coast."
Patterson said he wants to develop a groundwater desalination model that could be replicated on other state-owned tracts of land throughout Texas.
"Texas has an abundance of brackish water," Patterson said. "I hope to put the General Land Office in the water business statewide."
Patterson emphasized that necessity is the mother of invention.
"We can't plan on taking any more fresh water from the Edwards Aquifer," said Patterson. "It takes 30 years to get a new lake permitted and filled. Pipelines cost a fortune."
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