Liquid Assets: The State of Texas’ Water Resources
Region B Plan
Exhibit 12: Map of Region B
Region B’s most costly and most vital projects are those that aim to improve water quality. For example, the region plays a role in a chloride control water quality project that was initiated in the 1970’s by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Red River Authority and water planners in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Region B is located in North Central Texas and borders Oklahoma. The region consists of 11 counties and contains a portion of three major river basins. The area’s two major cities are Wichita Falls and Vernon (Exhibit 12). Its main industries include farming, ranching and mineral production.
Region B’s 16 recommended water management strategies include conservation, water reuse and water quality improvements, as drought conditions tend to produce high nitrate and chloride concentrations in its water. Total capital costs for all of Region B’s water management strategies are estimated at just over $202.2 million.12 Although the region’s water supplies will fall from 2010 to 2060, a projected decrease in demand will allow the region to meet all its needs if its recommended strategies are followed.
Region B’s strategies fall under four major categories: conservation, desalination, groundwater and surface water (Exhibit 13).
Region B 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 Water Project and Strategies
Region B’s planning group has recommended four water conservation strategies, the largest of which is a canal lining project that aims to prevent water loss by improving the structural integrity of irrigation canals. If fully implemented, the canal lining project will save the region an additional 15,700 acre-feet annually by 2060. This project is long-term, as the region plans to implement it by 2040. To meet more immediate needs, however, Region B must find solutions to its water challenges and manage its current supply more effectively.
Region B’s most costly and most vital projects are those that aim to improve water quality. For example, the region plays a role in a chloride control water quality project that was initiated in the 1970’s by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Red River Authority and water planners in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. The collaborative project aims to desalinate water in the Wichita Basin, which supplies water to all four of the aforementioned states. Region B’s portion of the chloride control project has projected capital costs of $77.5 million. The project, if successful, would provide an additional 26,500 acre-feet of water annually by 2060. In the late 1990’s, however, Army Corps of Engineers recommended that a non-federal entity assume maintenance and operation of the project. Since then, the region’s planning board has had difficulty obtaining funding for the project and has been forced to suspend it due to a lack of federal appropriations.13
Regional Challenges and Successes
Water quality is by far Region B’s biggest challenge, due to high concentrations of nitrate and chloride in Lake Kemp. The region is in desperate need of federal funding for its chloride control project, which would help make the lake’s water potable. The region’s planning group also asserts that the EPA’s current nitrate drinking water standard, which specifies a nitrate concentration of no more than 10 milligrams per liter, forces the region to bear unreasonable costs. According to the planning group, the standard should allow for significantly higher nitrate content because water with higher nitrate levels does not present a health hazard to the region’s residents. Moreover, the nitrate standard requires that local water management entities conduct costly processing that is unreasonable given their budgetary allowances.14
According to TWDB, any failure to implement the region’s strategies could cost its residents $4 million in income and 50 to 60 full and part-time jobs from 2010 through 2060. State and local governments could lose $200,000 in annual tax revenue by 2010 and $300,000 by 2060.15
- 12 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 333.
- 13 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, pp. 20-22, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202%20regional%20B%20FINAL_113006.pdf. (Last visited December 31, 2008.)
- 14 Interview with Curtis Campbell, chairman, Region B Water Planning Group, Wichita Falls, Texas, November 5, 2008.
- 15 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 251.