talkin’ desalination & drought

img_2470I was the pest elbowing along stretched in a bellyslide inviting junior-league ticks a chance at longevity enhancement. Nine-banded armadillo at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge hardly seemed to notice.

Folks at the San Antonio Water System are trotting out revisions to the utility’s 50-year plan and I’m pulling out of jungstown for a few nights of simple waterfront camping.

Good time for both, being, as we are, in this deepening drought.

Then — Joiks! — into the middle of everything comes crashing solar news radiating outta Austin.

Forbes kicks it thusly:

The city of Austin, Texas, approved on Thursday a 30-megawatt solar power plant, the biggest of its kind in the U.S. The measure passed despite weary opposition from leaders in the city’s industrial community, a group that pays 83% of the municipal “green power” tab.

The plant will be built and operated by San Francisco-based Gemini Solar Development 20 miles from downtown Austin. The 300 acres of Suntech photovoltaic solar panels is expected to be completed by the end of 2010 and will produce enough energy to power 5,000 homes a day.

City-owned Austin Energy will pay about $10 million a year for the power under a 25-year purchasing agreement with Gemini.The plant is a key component of the city’s goal to have 30% of its power sales come from renewable resources by 2020. Currently, 12% of the city’s power sales, or 439 megawatts, come from contract windmills in West Texas.

(You can get more details from the horse itself.)

Now much of that silicon and aluminum was good old Texan handiwork, I’m told, but that’s about it. Rest is Chinese varietal, ’bout the same as Texan but without the swagger of local jobs. Rumor has it that Suntech would prefer not to ship aluminum and fancy sand back and forth like this for long and may be willing to open shop on Tejano tierra if the market sparks a bit more.

Back on the planeta Queblog treadmill you may have noticed a series of posts this week, including titillating links between solar and water, and carbon and water, and water and lesser water. (If you’re drawing blank here, I elucidate below.)

rolling out the carbon-cutting guillotine (for charlie gonzalez?)Over the weekend a new audience got a little better acquainted with Mayor Hardberger’s rush to lay down new tracks in his final months in office — tracks that ideally would steer San Antonio on course to become an international leader in pollution-free energy development, if all goes well.

asked her for water, she gave me listerine
Point one: If you are buying water in little plastic bottles, you’re an idiot. Tough love, I know. But it’s time get over all that insanity.
Point number two: We sit on an ocean of beautiful, crystal-clear freshwater. So why is our water utility talking about desalination of ocean water?

bexar county commissioners choking on anti-sewage billAs far as bill language goes, this one pending in the House Natural Resources Committee up in Austin is as plain as a one-sided coin. Clocking in at a mere 423 words, the bill to outlaw the discharge of septic water into creeks and streams over the contributing or recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer doesn’t take much puzzling over to comprehend.

canary islanders deliver renewables-cum-desalination message
Canary Islanders represented a good portion of the European settlement stock of colonial San Antonio, ultimately helping transform the San Antonio River’s headwaters into an organized system of canals for drinking and irrigation water hundreds of years ago.

The hits just keep on coming.

Want more Aransas Pass pics?

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