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Liquid Assets: The State of Texas’ Water Resources

Region L Plan


South Central Texas Region (L)

Region L Map

Text Description of Map of the Lower Colorado Region (L)

Exhibit 32: Map of the South Central Texas Region (L)

Region L, also known as the South Central Texas region, stretches from the Gulf Coast in Calhoun County and westward through South Central Texas. The region comprises 21 counties and the cities of San Antonio, Victoria, San Marcos and New Braunfels (Exhibit 32). The area includes segments of nine rivers, the Guadalupe Estuary and San Antonio Bay. The Comal and San Marcos Springs, the two largest springs in Texas, are located in the region. The main economic sectors in the area are tourism, medical, military, service, manufacturing and retail trade.86

Strategies Used and Estimated Costs

The South Central Texas Water Planning Group has recommended 26 water management strategies to meet the water needs of 2060. In all, the strategies would provide 732,779 acre-feet of additional water supply. The projected total capital cost for providing the additional water for the region is more than $5.2 billion (Exhibit 33).87

Exhibit 33

South Central Texas Region (L) Water Management Strategies

Description Capital Costs Water Gained in Acre-Feet Average Capital Cost per Acre-Feet
Conjunctive Use $2,481,042,000 177,177 $14,003
Conservation $0 109,927 $0
Desalination $984,726,000 89,674 $10,981
Groundwater $713,958,000 206,111 $3,464
Surface Water $853,374,000 98,214 $8,689
Water Reuse $189,308,000 51,676 $3,663
Total $5,222,408,000 732,779 $7,127

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

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA)/San Antonio Water System (SAWS) Water Project has the largest capital cost in Region L. The project is expected to generate a capital cost of $2.1 billion and produce a gain in water by 150,000 acre-feet in 2060.88 On February 27, 2002, a definitive agreement between SAWS and LCRA was established to purchase up to 150,000 acre-feet per year of surface water from the Lower Colorado River Basin. The agreement was signed by LCRA and SAWS to collaborate on the water supply project. The agreement requires a six-year study period and then project implementation can occur if the project meets all legislative requirement and is financially, technically and environmentally feasible.89

Currently, the LCRA/SAWS Water Project is in the study phase, which started in mid-2004. Specifically, “the majority of the field studies for the off-channel storage facility and intake facilities have been completed.”90 The study phase is expected to be complete by mid-2009, and an implementation plan will be developed by March 2015 once the project meets the requirements in the Definitive Agreement.91 The studies in progress focus on issues such as climate change analysis and underground water studies. In relation, House Bill 1629 passed by the Texas Legislature in 2001 authorized the LCRA-SAWS Water Project to proceed only in the case that it meets specific requirements to protect the Lower Colorado River basin. Therefore, the study is formed with an emphasis on meeting criteria set by the bill prior to devising a plan to implement the strategy.92

The Edwards Aquifer Recharge – type 2 project has a capital cost of $367.2 million and is expected to generate 21,577 acre-feet of water in 2060.93 Type 2 projects use recharge dams to catch water in dry streams or creek beds so that it can seep into an aquifer. Currently, studies are being conducted on recharge, recirculation and the recovery implementation program. The project has not yet entered the design and implementation phase.

Presentations on previous recharge studies and the Barton Springs recharge project were conducted on October 16, 2008, and November 13, 2008. The presentations on the various recharge projects are expected to enhance the Edwards Aquifer Recharge subcommittee’s familiarity with developing better ways to recharge aquifers.94

The Regional Carrizo for Bexar County Supply and Regional Carrizo for Schertz-Seguin Local Government Corporation (SSLGC) strategies have been experiencing impediments in proceeding with the project. The Regional Carrizo for Bexar County Supply strategy is defined as being a total of 62,588 acre-feet per year of Carrizo groundwater from four well fields in Gonzales, Wilson and Bexar Counties. The groundwater is delivered to SAWS Twin Oaks facility in southern Bexar County. The project includes 98 miles of raw water pipeline, 37 miles of treated water transmission pipeline, three raw water pump stations and expansion of a water treatment plant at Twin Oaks will accommodate increase in water demand. 95

However, the project has been unable to proceed due to contestation. The groundwater districts do not want water in their region to be drawn from the Carrizo and used in the City of San Antonio. A mediation process between the Gonzales groundwater district and SAWS was held last year, but no resolution was reached.96

The Regional Carrizo for SSLGC Project Expansion is owned and operated by SSLGC and holds permits to pump 12,200 acre-feet per year of groundwater from Gonzales County’s Carrizo Aquifer. Schertz and Seguin will be the primary sites to receive the supply of water, and SSLGC has signed contracts to supply 400 acre-feet per year of peaking water to the cities of Selma and Universal City.97 Currently, the project has not been able to move forward due to contestation. Permit applications have been submitted to the underground districts, but the next process is being delayed by the contested case hearing.98

The SAWS Recycled Water Program is hoping to reach additional customers by establishing north and south interconnections between two main legs of the current system and by extending existing lines. SAWS is currently working with legislative representatives in its area on possible legislation for the 81st Legislature to allow better reuse of water.99

According to the TWDB, if the strategies listed above are not implemented, residents of Region L face losses of $664 million in income and 10,200 full- and part-time jobs by 2010, nearly $5.5 billion in income and about 100,000 jobs by 2060. In addition, state and local governments could lose $32 million in annual tax revenue by 2010 and about $335 million by 2060.100

Regional Challenges and Successes

One of the major problems in the region is the lack of water for the growing population. There are ongoing issues such as the exporting of Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer water from Gonzales and Wilson counties, the potential of temporary overdrafting of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, the revised Lower Guadalupe Water Supply Project and the over-reliance on the Edwards Aquifer.101

Endnotes

  • 86 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, p. 79, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202_REGIONAL%20L%20FINAL%20112706.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.)
  • 87 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, p. 80, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202_REGIONAL%20L%20FINAL%20112706.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.)
  • 88 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, p. 344.
  • 89 Lower Colorado River Authority, “Contractual Agreement”, http://www.lcra.org/lswp/overview/agreement.html. (Last visited January 3, 2009.)
  • 90 Lower Colorado River Authority, LCRA-SAWS Water Project Quarterly Status Report (Austin, Texas, 1st Quarter 2008), p. 1, http://www.lcra.org/library/media/public/docs/lswp/1st_Qtr_2008_Report.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.)
  • 91 Lower Colorado River Authority, LCRA-SAWS Water Project Quarterly Status Report.
  • 92 Interview with Joe Rippole, project manager, San Antonio Water Systems, San Antonio, Texas, November 6, 2008.
  • 93 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, p. 345, http:// www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/APP%202.1_final%20112906.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.)
  • 94 Email communication from Rick Illgner, coordinator of Intergovernmental Affairs, Edwards Aquifer Authority, San Antonio, Texas, November 20, 2008.
  • 95 South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group with San Antonio River Authority, South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Area: 2006 Regional Water Plan, by HDR Engineering, Inc., Margaret Dalthorp, Paul Price Associates, Inc., and John Folk-Williams, Sr., (Austin, Texas, January 2006), Volume II, p. 4C.14-0, www.regionltexas.org/documents/2006rwp/vol2/Section_4C.14Regional_Carrizo_to_Bexar_County.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.) (Consultant’s report.)
  • 96 Interview with Donovan Burton, manager of Legislative Affairs, San Antonio Water Supply, San Antonio, Texas, November 20, 2008.
  • 97 South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group with San Antonio River Authority, South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Area: 2006 Regional Water Plan, by HDR Engineering, Inc., Margaret Dalthorp, Paul Price Associates, Inc., and John Folk-Williams, Sr. (Austin, Texas, January 2006), Volume II, p. 4C.15-1, www.regionltexas.org/documents/2006rwp/vol2/Section_4C.15Regional_Carrizo_for%20SSLG.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.) (Consultant’s report.)
  • 98 Interview with Alan Cockerell, general manager, Schertz-Seguin Local Government Corporation, Seguin, Texas, November 20, 2008.
  • 99 Interview with Donovan Burton, manager of Legislative Affairs, San Antonio Water System.
  • 100 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 251.
  • 101 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007) Volume II, p. 82, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202_REGIONAL%20L%20FINAL%20112706.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.)
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