Houston metro success story: Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project 2013

TWDB's assistance is critical. Absent the funding, we wouldn't have been able to start this project.

The Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project was originally conceived in the 1930s. Today, almost a century later, the project is nearly underway-supplying surface water to the ever-growing Houston metro area and reducing the area's reliance on groundwater.

"Over the years, the ground has subsided, due in part to groundwater extraction. Groundwater has been the region's primary water source," says Kate Bechtold, Executive Staff Analyst with the City of Houston. As a result, the Houston and Galveston Subsidence District and Fort Bend Subsidence District are now requiring that Harris County and northern Fort Bend County convert from using groundwater to surface water.

In addition, Coastal Water Authority Executive Director Don Ripley reports "We're undergoing a dramatic growth in population in the area, so our need is also demand driven." Bechtold says Houston's population rose 1.7% from 2010 to 2011.

Coastal Water Authority will plan, design and construct the Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project. The project will transfer existing surface water rights held by the City of Houston in the Trinity River to Lake Houston in the San Jacinto basin. The Luce Bayou project will include building a pump station, 3 miles of mains, and 23 miles of open canals to convey the untreated water to Lake Houston. There the city will treat the water; it will be used by the City of Houston and four regional water authorities (North Harris County Regional Water Authority, West Harris County Regional Water Authority, Central Harris County Regional Water Authority and North Fort Bend Water Authority).

After transfer and treatment, more than 300 water districts and city customers in the northern and western Houston metro area and northern Fort Bend County will reap the benefits of treated surface water. End users will primarily be residential and agricultural.

Construction on the Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project is slated to begin in 2015. The project was a recommended strategy in the 2012 State Water Plan and was made possible through Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) financial assistance exceeding $61 million, as well as funding from stakeholders.

Ripley says "TWDB's assistance is critical. Absent the funding for environmental studies and planning, we wouldn't have been able to start this project."

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