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A pilot project that will use wind power to desalinate brackish groundwater in west Texas will receive a $500,000 grant from the Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA).

The grant to the city of Seminole from ORCA's Renewable Energy Demonstration Pilot Program will help fund the nearly $1.08 million project.

"This project could be a road map for how our rural communities can use wind power to help meet future water needs," says Charles S. Stone, ORCA's executive director.

Seminole's proposal to ORCA calls for groundwater to be pumped from the deep, brackish Santa Rosa aquifer. A 50 kV wind turbine will help power a reverse osmosis plant that will make the water drinkable for the town's residents.

ORCA is partnering with Texas Tech University, which has been working for three years with Seminole on the design and economics of wind-driven groundwater desalinization systems.

If the project is successful, Jamie Chapman of Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center says Seminole eventually plans to install wind turbines with the capacity to produce 3 MW to power a reverse osmosis plant large enough to treat a future peak demand of 3 million gallons of water per day. Seminole currently uses about 2 million gallons per day on average from the Ogallala aquifer.


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