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Corpus Christi sold its water to Exxon, gambling on desalination. So far, it is losing the bet.

Concerns over ecological damage to Corpus Christi Bay have delayed plans to convert sea water to drinking water for years in this booming Gulf Coast city, where environmentalists see water supply as a “chokehold” to block new fossil fuel infrastructure.

A seabird on the shore of Nueces Bay showing Corpus Christi's refinery row. Plans to open plants that will turn seawater into fresh water have sparked concerns that their discharge will cause the bay's salinity to rise and devastate its ecosystem.
A map of Corpus Christi Bay shows the locations of refineries.
Semi-arid saltwater marshes and sand dunes on Mustang Island, outside Corpus Christi.
Mullet swim in the shallow water and seagrass beds of Corpus Christi Bay near Ingleside.
ExxonMobil’s massive ethane cracker started operations this year in San Patricio County. Eventually it will consume up to 25 million gallons of Corpus Christi water.

Speaking out against desalination

People of Corpus Christi stroll a bayside footpath at Cole Park.
Luxury vacation rentals on Mustang Island outside Corpus Christi, where tourists flock for wild beaches and rich fishing in the bay.

“Lawyers and lobbyists” 

A colossal new bridge will allow much larger tanker ships to access refineries on the Corpus Christi Channel. Bridge construction, initially scheduled for 2020 completion, is currently suspended over design flaw concerns.

A proliferation of energy and industrial projects

A Great Blue Heron stands across the Aransas channel from a complex of crude oil storage tanks at a new trio of export terminals on Corpus Christi Bay.

A century of rising salinity 

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