Texas Perspective: Water


Houston Public Media

By Don Geraci and Houston Public Media Staff

“I like to tell people you’re sitting in the fastest growing city in the fastest growing state,” said Steven Murdock, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology, Rice University. “Our metropolitan area has grown by almost 400,000 people from April 1, 2010 to July 1st of 2013.”

Murdock who served as Director of the Census under President George W. Bush says the Greater Houston Area will have added 1.2 million people by 2020. Which begs the question: What kind of stress will those numbers put on Houston’s water supply?

“We are very lucky in this area,” Al Rindl, North Harris Count Regional Water Authority. “I don’t believe we’ll ever see anything like we’ve seen in West Texas because we have water sources right here that are replenished with rain.”

“Houston is mainly on surface water, we have a few other sources – ground water and we also have the opportunity to perhaps do some water reuse in the future,” said Ruthanne Haut, Infrastructure Analyst, City of Houston. “At the moment, the majority of our water comes from surface water, specifically Lake Livingston is the majority of it.”

Lake Livingston is fed by the Trinity River. Houstonians might want to put any rivalry they have with Dallas on hold.

“Every time Dallas flushes, Houston gets water,” said Haut.

“Most of the water going into the Trinity River, a lot of people don’t like to hear this,” said Rindl. “But it is the sewage treatment plants and they’re putting millions and millions of gallons a day into the Trinity River. And the larger the city of Dallas — Forth Worth grows, the more water they’re putting into the river to flow down to our area.”

Don’t worry. That water is properly treated by the time it makes its way into your home. And while officials say Houston’s water supply will meet the demand through at least 2050 they’ll also tell you that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down when it comes to conservation.

“The best thing we can do is be water wise and be good stewards of the water when we have it,” said Haut. “So things like rain barrels. Those small measures can make sure that we maintain a very high quality of life for Houston. And keep attracting businesses into the Houston area for the long term future.”