New state funding for Luce Bayou Project to help Houston area deal with water demands

May 23, 2013 4:51:05 PM PDT
State funding could soon help the Houston area deal with the water demand that comes with a growing metro area. Lawmakers hope the $2 billion state water fund will help put major projects in the pipeline that will help take some of the strain off of our local lakes.

Currently, we are doing well when it comes to water needs, but continued growth and a drought two years ago proves the Houston area could benefit from more water resources.

"These are water lines that have either been constructed or will be constructed," said Jimmie Schindewolf, GM of the North Harris County Regional Water Authority.

Schindewolf's agency will have a hand in one of the state's biggest water projects when the $350 million of funding becomes available. The Luce Bayou Project would bring water from the Trinity River to Lake Houston, our area's source of drinking water.

"In our drought of 2011, Lake Houston levels dropped, had to call on Lake Conroe. Lake Conroe levels dropped 9 feet and once the Luce Bayou Project is built... then we will be able to bring water to Lake Houston and will not be calling on Lake Conroe anymore," Schindewolf said.

New legislation just approved by lawmakers would create two state water fund accounts worth $2 billion to finance projects with low interest rates. Currently, the Houston area's needs are being meet due to years of previous planning, but with population growth on the horizon, more planning is needed.

"Our industry, particularly in the Energy Corridor is exploding and all of that -- population, industry -- requires water and we need to be in a position to be able to respond," said Tom Ramsey with Klotz Associates.

The new water funds now only need voter approval. As the low interest loans are repaid, it's estimated the account could fund $25 billion in projects over the next 50 years.

"There will be an opportunity to implement the state water plan that has been in place for sometime, but has not had the money available to build a number of projects in that state water plan," said Schindewolf.

Expect to hear more about the water fund accounts as voters will have to give it the thumbs up or down in November. The Luce Bayou Project hopes to get underway in mid-2015.

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