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HB 4097, if passed, would modify the Utilities Code by adding new language related to the seawater desalination regime. Two new sections (39.203 and 39.9055) would require the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality to work with the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas in studying relevant issues. These are, whether existing transmission and distribution processes are sufficient for future desalination projects, and the potential for said projects to participate in the current ERCOT market.
The next section (11.1405) is related to the proposed permitting process for desalination of water which would be used for industrial processes related to water taken from the Gulf of Mexico. These permits must be submitted as required by commission rule, must be compatible with current environmental flow standards, and are not subject to public notice or contested case hearings.
The next section (26.0272) is related to the proposed permitting process for permits authorizing residuals discharge from seawater desalination facilities. The key code of note is the requirement that residuals meet clean water standards set by the state. New section 27.021 is also related to the treatment of residuals
The final new section (27.025) states that a general permit authorized under this section may also be used for an injection well for the disposal of concentrate produced in a desalination project. The permit must require the information necessary for the commission to comply with the federal underground injection control program.
HB 4097 is a prudent bill which helps to create a legal structure for future desalination projects. We find that the language is well-crafted and the code is well-constructed. Of note is the allowance of a general permit to be used for injection wells, and the permitting process in (11.1405) not to be subject to public notice. Given that we recognize water management as a legitimate function of the state, given the need for a desalination regime, and given the positive construction of this bill, we support HB 4097.