Finalist Selected to Perform Power / Desalinated Water Feasibility Study

Project would be one of the few outside of the Middle East

Posted: May 29, 2013

For more information
LaMarriol Smith, GBRA, 830-379-5822,

SEGUIN, TEXAS – Officials with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) and its partners, the General Land Office (GLO), and the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) named a team led by MWH Global as the preferred finalist to conduct a feasibility assessment study for developing ocean water desalination as a regional water supply including the option of co-located power generation facilities.  This kind of project is more commonly referred to as an Independent Water Power Project (IWPP).

The MWH team was one of 16 teams representing 64 national and international firms to initially respond to GBRA’s request for qualifications (RFQ), which was publicly posted in September 2012. Eventually, the proposal evaluators narrowed the teams down to seven finalists.  Those finalists made presentations during in-person interviews held at GBRA headquarters in Seguin, Texas, during the month of May.  “Evaluators used a comprehensive performance criteria matrix to rate the teams with MWH ultimately earning the highest ranking,” explained William “Bill” E. West, Jr., GBRA general manager.   

MWH is a global strategic consulting, technical engineering and construction services firm headquartered in Colorado with offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. The MWH point of contact is Matt B. Garcia at (214) 346-4314.

“This isn’t just a study — this is the kind of long-term thinking that will meet the needs of South Texans for generations,” said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. “This effort will be an important step in meeting the water and power needs of South Texas through the year 2060.” The Texas General Land Office agreed to partner with GBRA and will contribute toward funding the study.

“This feasibility study will have to consider and evaluate many factors, such as plant location, most effective and efficient water conveyance system, fuel source, safe brine disposal and other environmental issues, economic issues, and construction timelines,” GBRA Executive Manager for Water Resources and Utility Operations James L. Murphy said.

“We anticipate that this feasibility study could take up to 20 months to complete,” said Gary Asbury, GBRA’s manager of project engineering and the client project manager for water on the IWPP. “While we will have to wait to see what the feasibility study determines, it is anticipated that the fully expanded project could yield up to 250 million gallons per day (mgd) of desalinated water to serve the region,” he added. The quantity of 250 mgd is the approximate equivalent of 280,000 acre-feet of water annually or enough to supply about 350,000 households per year.

In order to develop the RFQ for this project, GBRA consulted with the director of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute, led by Les E. Shephard, Ph.D., who also holds UTSA’s Robert F. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Engineering.

Shephard, who will serve as client project manager for the overall project said the IWPP could potentially generate as much as 3,000 megawatts of electricity at full capacity that will help mitigate impacts from growing power needs across Texas.  Already power officials are predicting potential “brown-outs” across the state in the face of prolonged triple-digit temperatures that could hit this summer.

Now that the finalist has been selected, project representatives will begin contract negotiations with MWH to reach an agreement on costs, timeframes and other parameters of the project.

“Once the feasibility study has been completed, bringing an actual IWPP to fruition could be one of the most important infrastructure projects undertaken in the continental United States,” West said.  “Outside of the Middle East, there is one in Singapore.  A desalination plant located in Carlsbad, California, just north of San Diego, is located adjacent to a power plant, but it is designed specifically to generate desalinated water.”

About the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority

GBRA was established by the Texas Legislature in 1933 and provides stewardship for the water resources in its ten-county statutory district, which begins near the headwaters of the Guadalupe and Blanco Rivers, ends at San Antonio Bay.  GBRA’s planning and resource development efforts are carefully coordinated within the broader consideration of regional and statewide water needs in order to fulfill GBRA's mission of protecting, conserving, reclaiming and stewarding the resources of its 10-county district to ensure and promote quality of life for the constituents it serves.

About the Texas General Land Office

The Office of the Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office is the oldest, continuous elected position in Texas history, established by the Republic of Texas immediately after the Texas Revolution in 1836. The Commissioner serves a four-year term, elected state-wide, and is responsible for managing billions of dollars of state assets, investments and mineral rights, serves as Chairman of the Texas Veterans Land Board, and as chair of several other key state boards and commissions.

About the University of Texas San Antonio (Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute)

The University of Texas at San Antonio created the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute to partner with industry, universities and civic communities to position the south-central Texas region as a technology and innovation leader in the 21st century global energy economy.  Research at the Institute spans a continuum from a discovery-based and applied science and engineering to economic and systems analyses and strives to provide pragmatic outcomes that serve our region best.  The Institute also emphasizes technology commercialization to promote socioeconomic development that contributes to sustained economic prosperity regionally and nationally. 

About MWH

MWH Global is a strategic consulting, technical engineering and construction services firm leading the wet infrastructure sector. Offering a full range of services and innovative award-winning solutions beginning in the initial planning phases through construction and asset management, we partner with our clients in multiple industries to implement projects and programs that focus on water, energy, natural resources and infrastructure. MWH’s 7,500 employees in 35 countries spanning six continents are dedicated to fulfilling its purpose of Building a Better World, which reflects MWH’s commitment to sustainable development. MWH is a private, employee-owned firm with a rich legacy beginning 1820. For more information, visit the website at








EMBARGOED UNTIL: 9:00 a.m. CDT Wednesday, March 29, 2013

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