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Development of a Database for Desalination Facilities in Texas

Jean-Philippe Nicot, principal investigator; Steve Walden

The State of Texas has a renewed interest in desalination. However, no accurate central database on desalination of Texas facilities existed before this work. Sponsored by the TWDB, The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, undertook an exhaustive study of public water systems (PWS) engaged in desalination. A rough estimate of industrial and non-PWS desalination capacity is also given in the report. This study is thought to be the first at the state level to include all PWS facilities with a design capacity approximately ≥0.025 million gallons per day (MGD).

In the course of the study, more than 100 PWS were contacted, along with a few non-PWS facilities. It appears that the State of Texas currently contains about 38 PWS facilities with a desalination design capacity ≥0.025 MGD, a cumulative desalination design capacity of ~52 MGD, and another approximately 50 facilities with smaller desalination design capacity, for a cumulative desalination design capacity of <0.5 MGD. Industrial capacity amounts to roughly 60 to 100 MGD in hundreds of units, mainly in the power and semiconductor industries. These industries typically require water of better quality than that of typical municipal water. The food and beverage industry also make use of desalination units. Their quality requirements are closer to those of municipal water treatment plants.

Summary of results

Type of Desalination Facility

Number of Facilities

Cumulative Design Capacity

PWS ≥0.025 MGD


52 MGD

PWS <0.025 MGD


<0.5 MGD

Other desalination facilities


60 – 100 MGD


Location of some facilities is only approximate; Texas Statewide Mapping System projection
Facilities with a desalination design capacity ≥1.5 MGD are named

Map of desalination facilities showing design capacity


Design capacity and average production of the desalination units of the 19 facilities with the highest design capacity sorted by decreasing size


We collected information on design capacity and average production, as well as on permeate blending. The vast majority of facilities use reverse osmosis, although a few use the electrodialysis reversal process. Both surface water and groundwater are used as feedwater, whose average TDS is ~1,800 ppm. Concentrate disposal methods vary: evaporation pond, municipal sewer, surface water, and land application. The past few years have seen an explosion of desalination capacity in the state as a whole.

Time-cumulative desalination design capacity and average production of Texas PWS facilities


Final report [pdf]

For more information, please contact Jean-Phillippe Nicot, principal investigator.
Telephone 512-471-6246;