Liquid Assets: The State of Texas’ Water Resources
Region G Plan
Brazos Region (G)
Exhibit 22: Map of Brazos Region (G)
Cedar Park, Leander and Round Rock all need additional water in the future. Rather than building three water treatment plants and excess infrastructure, the cities are building one regional water treatment plant and pipes that connect all of them together. A $300 million loan from TWDB will fund the project.
Region G, also known as the Brazos region, stretches from Grimes County northwest to Kent County and includes all or parts of 37 counties (Exhibit 22). Major cities in the region include Abilene, Bryan, College Station, Killeen, Round Rock, Temple and Waco. More than 90 percent of the region is located within the Brazos River Basin, which is also its primary water source. Industries with the largest economic impact on the region are service, manufacturing and retail trade.
The Brazos Planning Group has recommended a variety of management strategies that could provide more water than it needs to meet future needs. In all, these strategies would provide 736,032 acre-feet of additional water annually by 2060. The projected total capital cost for providing this additional water is just over $1 billion.
To achieve the water goals set forth by its planning group, Region G will implement strategies in the areas of conservation, groundwater, surface water and water reuse (Exhibit 23).51
Brazos Region (G) Water Management Strategies
|Description||Capital Costs||Water Gained in Acre-Feet||Average Capital Cost per Acre-Feet|
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
Region G’s conservation strategies would provide 6 percent of all water associated with its strategies. The region has recommended water conservation for every municipal water user group that had both a need and a gallons-per-capita-per-day use greater than 140 gallons.52 The region will meet with local and municipal groups to develop timelines and reuse systems and closely monitor well and reservoir levels.53
Region G also has several groundwater strategies including building additional wells, water treatment facilities and voluntary redistribution. Region G, in partnership with TWDB, HDR Engineering and the city of Sweetwater, began a study in April 2008 to assess the water levels and quality in the Champion Well Field. Sweetwater currently receives all of its water from these wells. Lakes in the area, however, have returned to full capacity after several years of drought so the city can reduce its dependence on groundwater. Sweetwater would like to begin using surface water taken from lakes located 30 miles from the population center along with the well field to supply the residents.
Sweetwater plans to complete a study about water levels and quality with information from the surface water and the well field. The city’s wastewater treatment plant, online since 2004, and other infrastructure, including pipelines, will be updated to supply the city with surface water beginning 2009.54 If the study finds excessive use from citizens using the well field before it can be replenished, the region may explore other groundwater management strategies such as using supplies purchased from the city of Abilene, other groundwater supplies, or an off-channel alternative to Double Mountain Fork Reservoir. Region G continues to work with other regions to cultivate safe and sufficient water supplies.55
The Brazos Region plans include construction of new reservoirs and enhancing existing reservoirs. The region plans to identify specific small public water systems where problems with organization and resources might occur and study regionalization. The Brazos Group hopes to create larger regions that could share resources and pull together with larger water utilities. When counties within the region require more water than they have, the regional groups can distribute water from lakes, reservoirs and treatment plants needing water or to other entities outside the region.
According to TWDB, Somervell County has received $31 million in funding for a water treatment plant, storage and transmission lines. The Brazos River Authority received $22 million to develop a strategy using groundwater to firm up current supplies in Lake Granger, Palo Pinto Water District recieved $8 million for the acquisition of Lake Turkey Peak and the City of Cleburne received nearly $4.8 million for development of Lake Whitney.56
Three cities within Region G have joined together to complete the Lake Travis Regional Water System management strategy representing themselves as the Brushy Creek Regional Authority. The cities of Cedar Park, Leander and Round Rock all need additional water in the future. Rather than building three water treatment plants and excess infrastructure, the cities are building one regional water treatment plant and pipes that connect all of them together. A $300 million loan from TWDB will fund the majority of the project, which will begin with improvements to the already present floating intake in Lake Travis, a raw water line with water from the lake to the regional water treatment plant in Cedar Park and a treated water line with take points for the communities.
Cedar Park has the most immediate need for water at the present and will be online with the water treatment plant in 2012. In the interim, Round Rock will supply the city with water as part of their partnership. The bulk of the work for the project will be completed in the first phase, which includes building of pipes and the water treatment plant, at a cost of $180 million. Four local engineering firms are on working on the project, with the prospect for more consultants as construction begins. Once the project is completed, other cities in the area, including Georgetown, will be free to use local surface water supplies for their own needs rather than sharing with Round Rock, which will receive the bulk of its water from the Lake Travis Regional Water System.57
Region G utilizes water reuse strategies with new technology including pipes, discharge mechanisms, and more efficient cleaning techniques for irrigation and manufacturing purposes. The area also plans to purchase water from providers for irrigation. The region will monitor drought conditions and purchase additional water as needed, possibly from Region C. In partnership with Region C, the region will develop a study of the water supplies in Ellis County, Southwest Dallas County, Southeast Tarrant County and Johnson County to check on water levels for possible use in the Brazos Region during drought. Once water levels are assessed, infrastructure may be needed to serve the counties.58
According to TWDB, if Region G’s strategies are not implemented, its residents could lose nearly $1.1 billion in income and 19,260 full- and part-time jobs by 2010, and nearly $2.8 billion in income and more than 46,000 jobs by 2060. In addition, state and local governments could lose $39 million in annual tax revenue by 2010 and about $141 million by 2060.59
Regional Challenges and Successes
According to the Brazos Planning Group, the regional planning process has become much more inclusive and there is much better communication now between the planning group, entities providing water and entities needing water. This has led to greater understanding of the water issues that the region faces in the future. Specifically, the planning group indicated that the long-term planning horizon for the region is now 50 years, as opposed to previous planning efforts where the region only evaluated 10- to 15-year water needs. Also, the region established a formal method to communicate between competing users for a common resource and among regional water providers that manage the resources. Lastly, grassroots-level water planning with local stakeholders has created greater water literacy on the part of more local people.60
- 51 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, pp. 49-52, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202%20regional%20G%20FINAL_112806.pdf. (Last visited January 2, 2009.)
- 52 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 52.
- 53 Brazos G Regional Water Planning Group, “Exhibit C: Scope of Work (Extracted from the TWDB / BRA Final Contract signed 5/17/07),” pp. 1-2, www.brazosgwater.org/fileadmin/brazosg_upload/2011_brazosg_water_plan/Brazos_G_Scope_of_Work_approved_051707.pdf. (Last visited January 2, 2009.)
- 54 Interview with Eddie Brown, city manager, City of Sweetwater, Sweetwater, Texas, November 20, 2008.
- 55 Brazos G Regional Water Planning Group, “Exhibit C: Scope of Work (Extracted from the TWDB / BRA Final Contract signed 5/17/07),” pp. 3-5, http://www.brazosgwater.org/fileadmin/brazosg_upload/2011_brazosg_water_plan/Brazos_G_Scope_of_Work_approved_051707.pdf. (Last visited January 2, 2009.)
- 56 Data provided by Wendy Barron, team lead, Water Supply & Strategy Analysis, Texas Water Development Board.
- 57 Interview with Michael Thane, utilities director, City of Round Rock, Round Rock, Texas, November 20, 2008.
- 58 Brazos G Regional Water Planning Group, “Exhibit C: Scope of Work (Extracted from the TWDB / BRA Final Contract signed 5/17/07),” pp. 5-7.
- 59 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 251.
- 60 Email communication from Trey Buzbee, administrative assistant, Brazos G Regional Water Planning Group, Waco, Texas, October 20, 2008.