Three teams will be invited to submit proposals for a $757.6-million seawater desalination plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. The city council recently voted to approve the shortlist and authorize staff to execute a contract with the to-be-selected bidder for the progressive design-build project.

The city aims to build the project at a site on the Inner Harbor ship channel, which extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the port of Corpus Christi. The plant would be able to produce 30 million gallons of water per day, with intake from and discharge to the channel.

Corpus Christi Water supplies water to about 500,000 people. It has four surface water sources, but they are dependent on rail and are all treated at a single plant. Drew Molly, its chief operating officer, said during the city council’s June 25 meeting that the desalination plant is needed to secure "a drought-proof water supply.”

Four teams submitted qualifications in response to an RFP the city issued in March, with two joint venture teams and one standalone prime contractor shortlisted. 

They are: Corpus Christi Desal Partners, which includes Acciona Agua and MasTec Industrial; Corpus Christi Desalination Team, made up of CDM Smith and PLW Water; and Kiewit Infrastructure South Co., bidding alone. 

Corpus Christi Water aims to release a request for proposals to the shortlisted bidders July 8, with plans to make a selection in October and complete contract negotiations by January, Josh Chronley, chief procurement officer at the utility, said at the council meeting. 

The council authorized Corpus Christi Water to execute a $138-million contract with the selected bidder that would cover preconstruction services and design, as well as ordering equipment with long lead times such as high-pressure osmosis membranes, Molly said. 

Corpus Christi Water aims to start construction in 2025, with substantial completion in late 2027.

The council also voted at the meeting to amend a preconstruction professional services agreement with Freese and Nichols, worth up to $12 million. The firm is assisting with environmental assessments and permitting, as well as project oversight and technical assistance. 

The city is also considering a second desalination plant that would draw water from the La Quinta Channel and have a 40 million-gallon-per-day capacity. The two plants would nearly double the amount of water produced by Corpus Christi Water, according to the utility.