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2010-03-18 digital edition

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2010-03-18 / Front Page

Landowners May Find More People Wanting Their Water

In a press release issued last week by the Brazos River Authority (BRA), it became apparent that Blue Water and Cross Country Water won’t be the only players knocking on doors in hopes of securing land for the sake of gaining access to groundwater supplies.

“With population projections for Central Texas soaring, the state water plan estimates a shortage of water for the area by 2050. In response, the Brazos River Authority is moving forward on a plan to locate potential groundwater supplies to augment surface water supplies from Lake Granger.”

The project is called the Lake Granger Conjunctive Use Project, which BRA says will utilize surface water from Lake Granger during rainy periods and provide the ability to access groundwater from the Carrizo Wilcox aquifer during periods of drought.

The Texas Water Development Board recently gave BRA a lowcost loan for $100 million to begin the first phase of the project.

“We have been reviewing options for the purchase of about 35,000 acres of land in Milam and Lee Counties,” said Phil Ford, General Manager/CEO of the Brazos River Authority.

The big question, however, is how will the BRA acquire property in order to access the groundwater. “We anticipate working with willing sellers in the acquisition of property for the project. We do not have any intention of using the powers of eminent domain to obtain groundwater supplies.” said Mr. Ford.

Ford continued, “The availability of groundwater as a secondary source will meet the needs of the suburban cities north of Austin without placing a strain on either surface or groundwater supplies.”

While the whole issue of water remains a sensitive item, the BRA seems to soften their approach by claiming that using the conjunctive plan, (i.e. using the surface water and the ground water alternately as weather conditions fluctuate), will allow both sources to recharge while the other is being utilized.

Though the project is not expected to begin providing water supply until 2030, the process of accessing water from the Carrizo- Wilcox aquifer will take many years. In addition to land acquisition, the project will require permits from local groundwater districts, engineering studies, as well as environmental and archaeological studies, and the construction of pipelines, well fields, and expanded storage and treatment facilities.

The Conjunctive Use Project will provide a potential yield of 46,000 acre-feet of water. Estimated cost of the entire project is projected to be $530.6 million.

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