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Liquid Assets: The State of Texas’ Water Resources

Region F Plan


Region F

Region F Map

Text Description of Map of Region F.

Exhibit 20: Map of Region F

Region F is located in the Edwards Plateau in West Texas. It consists of 32 counties and includes the cities of Midland, Odessa and San Angelo (Exhibit 20). The Pecos River is located in the West of the region and the Colorado River is situated in the Northeast. A large portion of Region F lies in the upper portion of the Colorado River basin and the Pecos area of the Rio Grande basin. The region’s major industries are health care and social assistance, manufacturing and oil and gas.

Strategies Used and Estimated Cost

In its 2007 water plan, Region F recommended 15 water management strategies at a projected total capital cost of $557 million. The new management strategies would provide 239,250 acre-feet of additional water by 2060, slightly more than will be needed (Exhibit 21).

Region F could not, however, identify economically feasible strategies to meet some of its irrigation needs or any of its steam-electric needs. The region’s unmet needs include 115,523 acre-feet a year for irrigation and 24,306 acre-feet annually for steam-electric power generation in 2060.44

Region F has been a leader in weather modification (seeding clouds with rain-inducing chemicals) and brush management for many years. Areas within the region have been seeding promising cloud formations since the early 1970s.

Exhibit 21

Region F Water Management Strategies

Description Capital Costs Water Gained in Acre-Feet Average Capital Cost per Acre-Feet
Conservation $43,152,601 81,974 $526
Desalination $131,451,830 16,221 $8,104
Groundwater $251,825,812 38,270 $6,580
Surface Water $30,115,300 90,075 $334
Water Reuse $100,889,000 12,710 $7,938
Total $557,434,543 239,250 $2,330

Note: Capital cost figures do not include administrative, programmatic or other costs that may be required to implement water management strategies.

Source: Texas Water Development Board.

Status of Major Water Projects and Strategies

Because 78 percent of the region’s water comes from groundwater, most of the region’s projects are focused on reusing, cleaning and enhancing these resources.45

Region F has been a leader in weather modification (seeding clouds with rain-inducing chemicals) and brush management for many years. Areas within the region have been seeding promising cloud formations since the early 1970s.46 The North Concho River watershed was the site of a state-funded brush management program in the early 2000s to restore grassland and reduce large areas of water-hogging juniper and mesquite trees, thus allowing rainfall to penetrate the soil and flow into underground supplies.47 Both technologies are included in the region’s plan to enhance surface and groundwater supplies.

The Hickory Aquifer supplies the city of Eden with sufficient fresh water, but the area’s low number of wells has impeded the city’s ability to access much of the aquifer’s supplies. Drilling more wells could cost more than $1.5 million, more than the city could afford by itself. Eden is working with TWDB to find funding.

Furthermore, San Angelo recently built a pipeline to its well field south of Melvin to supply it with adequate water. The pipeline passes near Eden and the city could link to it. Plans to do so are still developing.48

According to TWDB, any failure to implement Region F’s strategies could cost its residents $475 million in income and 8,020 full- and part-time jobs by 2010, and $962 million in income and 15,600 jobs by 2060. In addition, state and local governments could lose $35 million in annual tax revenue by 2010 and $82 million by 2060.49

Regional Challenges and Successes

Region F faces challenges in meeting drinking water standards as well as with disposing of waste from desalination and radionuclide treatment, which is, respectively, the removal of salts and naturally-occurring, low level radioactive particles from groundwater. A few small, rural communities in the region rely solely on water sources that exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on some of these contaminants, but they cannot afford expensive water treatment costs, nor do they have clear guidance on how to dispose of the residual waste. Some regional representatives contend that the cost of treatment in order to meet federal drinking water standards is not justified by the health risks from the presence of radionuclide in the water. The region therefore recommends that the TCEQ help these communities receive exemptions from EPA’s radionuclide regulations so that they do not face either strict enforcement or costly water treatment costs. Further, the region also has recommended that TCEQ create rules for disposing of radionuclide waste residuals so that these communities can estimate treatment costs more accurately.50

Endnotes

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