Monthly Featured Story - October 2013 | Texas Water Development Board

State Water Plan solutions: Addressing Texas' water needs October 2013

Every five years, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) develops the state water plan-a blueprint based on 16 regional water plans—to address the state's future water needs. At any given time, hundreds of state water plan projects are underway in every corner of Texas. These may involve planning and design, straightforward construction projects like building new pipelines, or innovative ideas like supplementing supplies with desalinated brackish water.

Following recommendations from the state water plan, here's a snapshot of some of the water supply solutions TWDB has facilitated.

San Antonio Water System's (SAWS) brackish groundwater desalination project involves developing a well field and its associated collection system, a reverse osmosis water treatment facility and concentrate management facility. TWDB provided more than $109 million in funding for the planning, design and construction of this project, which is currently in the construction phase. The plant will provide an additional 12,000 acre-feet of water per year.

"It makes sense, from a water management standpoint, that we develop another resource," says Esther Harrah, SAWS Manager of Desalination Engineering. "When the final stage of the project is completed, we hope we'll have provided enough water for future generations."

Near the Gulf Coast, Coastal Water Authority's Luce Bayou project will move existing Trinity River water to Lake Houston in the San Jacinto River basin via pumping stations, a canal and pipelines. Planning is nearly complete for this project, which will supplement water supplies for the City of Houston and provide water to more than 300 regional water entities. Approximately 128,000 acre-feet of water per year will be available through this project.

This project has benefited from more than $61 million in TWDB financial assistance. Coastal Water Authority Executive Director Don 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."

In the Panhandle, construction has been completed on raw water and treated water transmission lines and a pump station at Lake Alan Henry, which serves the City of Lubbock's residents and those from smaller, neighboring communities. TWDB funding exceeding $83 million helped develop these additional water supplies that will also benefit small businesses, Reese Technology Center, Texas Tech University and industries related to cotton growing.

While looking for a program with less red tape and better interest rates, Lubbock's Director of Water Resources, Aubrey Spear, learned about TWDB funding through the Water Infrastructure Fund. "The program allowed us to save $15 million in interest rates," he says. "At that time, it was the best funding option for a community our size."

Tarrant Regional Water District (TWRD) and the City of Dallas have a long history of cooperation in water supply planning. These two providers have teamed to develop the Integrated Pipeline project, currently in the planning and design phase. The completed design will include a transmission line from Lake Palestine to Dallas and a transmission line to Tarrant County to connect and convey water from TRWD's reservoirs and wetland reuse project.

To date, the Integrated Pipeline project has received more than $101 million in financial assistance from TWDB. By 2020, it will provide approximately 217,000 acre-feet of water per year.

In the Rio Grande Valley, the City of McAllen will create a reclaimed wastewater reuse pump station, a UV disinfection system and a 34,100-foot pipeline to serve irrigation customers currently using potable water. The project will help the city reduce its raw water demand.

The TWDB has committed $7.8 million for planning, construction and design of the facilities. This project will provide the City of McAllen with approximately 2,240 acre-feet of additional water per year.

Development of the state water plan projects is crucial to our mission because it addresses the needs of all water user groups statewide. Texas has water needs, and TWDB is working to solve them.