Liquid Assets: The State of Texas’ Water Resources
Region N Plan
Coastal Bend Region (N)
Exhibit 36: Map of the Coastal Bend Region (N)
Region N is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the adjoining South Texas Region and other agencies to devise joint water management strategies. The region has been successful in planning for water needs in the region, with available supplies projected to meet water demands through at least 2035.
Located in south Texas, Region N (also known as the Coastal Bend region), covers 11 counties and part of the Nueces River Basin and the Nueces Estuary. The largest cities in the region are Corpus Christi, Portland, Kingsville, Beeville, Alice and Robstown (Exhibit 36).118 The largest regional water provider, the City of Corpus Christi, sells water to the South Texas Water Authority and San Patricio Municipal Water District.119 The major industries in the region are service, government, retail trade and petrochemical.
Strategies Used and Estimated Costs
Implementing the recommended water management strategies in the Coastal Bend Region would provide an additional 149,496 acre-feet of water in 2060 at a total capital cost of $789.5 million, most of which would develop surface water sources (Exhibit 37).120
Coastal Bend Region (N) Water Management Strategies
|Description||Capital Costs||Water Gained in Acre-Feet||Average Capital Cost per Acre-Feet|
Note: The conservation efforts for mining in Region N that contribute to the region’s overall water gain from conservation have highly variable costs per acre-foot and were not included in the overall average cost per acre-foot for that category. 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
To enhance surface supplies, the City of Corpus Christi is planning for a major seawater desalination plant to increase water for municipal users. According to the City of Corpus Christi water department, a feasibility study has been completed on the desalination project. At this time, the project is not economically feasible and will remain on hold until it becomes a necessity.121 The city also bought 35,000 acre-feet per year from the Colorado River-based Garwood Irrigation Company that will be used for irrigation, as well as industrial and municipal purposes.
Currently, HDR Engineering Inc. is partnering with the Nueces River Authority on a channel loss study on the surface and groundwater moving between the Choke Canyon Reservoir to Lake Corpus Christi. Data revealed that little or no water is actually lost during transport between the reservoir and the lake, eliminating the need to build the $105 million pipeline detailed in the previous plan. The funds can now be redirected to other cost-effective water management strategies. Continued study will include the benefits of an off-channel reservoir, a storage reservoir in a lowland area, to accumulate additional water when supplies exceed capacity. Because the off-channel storage would be smaller and in a lowland area compared to the lake, it would minimize evaporation. HDR continues to assess the cost estimate and benefits of this water management strategy.122
Groundwater supplies will be enhanced by a new well field in western Refugio County over the Gulf Coast Aquifer to provide water during peak agricultural times.
According to the TWDB, if the strategies listed above are not implemented, the region could lose $22 million in income and 230 full- and part-time jobs by 2010. By 2060, the cost could be about $3.2 billion in income and nearly 36,800 jobs. In addition, state and local governments could lose $3 million in annual tax revenue by 2010 and about $233 million by 2060.123
Regional Challenges and Successes
The region has been a leader in water planning for years. For instance, the Mary Rhodes Pipeline was completed in 1998 to transport water from Lake Texana to the City of Corpus Christi via an interbasin transfer permit. The pipeline can transport twice the volume of water under current supply contracts.124 The region is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the adjoining South Texas Region and other agencies to devise joint water management strategies. The Coastal Bend Region has been successful in planning for water needs in the region, with available supplies projected to meet water demands through at least 2035.125
- 118 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007 (Austin, Texas, January 2007), Volume II, p. 91, www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/State_Water_Plan/2007/2007StateWaterPlan/CHAPTER%202_REGIONAL%20N%20_final%20112706.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.)
- 119 Coastal Bend Regional Water Planning Group, Coastal Bend (Region N) Regional Water Plan: Executive Summary by Nueces River Authority and HDR Engineering, Inc. (Corpus Christi, Texas, January 2001), p. ES-5, http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/rwp/N/PDFs/N_Executive%20Summary.pdf. (Last visited January 3, 2009.) (Consultant’s report.)
- 120 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, pp. 91- 92.
- 121 Interview with Mark Van Vleck, deputy water director, City of Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, Texas, November 21, 2008.
- 122 HDR Engineering, Inc., “Coastal Bend (Region N) Regional Water Supply Plan,” pp. 1-2, http://hdrinc.com/13/38/1/default.aspx?projectID=805. (Last visited January 5, 2009.)
- 123 Texas Water Development Board, Water for Texas 2007, Volume II, p. 252.
- 124 Coastal Bend Regional Water Planning Group, Nueces River Authority, and HDR Engineering, Inc., 2011 Regional Water Plan: Study 1 Evaluation of Additional Potential Regional Water Supplies for Delivery through the Mary Rhodes Pipeline, Including Gulf Coast Groundwater and Garwood Project, DRAFT (Corpus Christi, Texas, November 2008), p. 1, http://www.nueces-ra.org/CP/RWPG/pdfs/1.pdf. (Last visited January 5, 2009.) (Consultant’s report.)
- 125 Letter from Rocky Freund, staff, Coastal Bend Regional Water Planning Group and Nueces River Authority, November 4, 2008.