A historic new water pipeline is coming to northwest Harris County. In the past, the rapidly growing city of Houston has had some concerns when it comes to supplying an adequate amount of water to residents. This pipeline, massive in scale, aims to change all of that.
Historically, Houston has relied on fast underground aquifers. A scientific report dated 1939 reassured Houstonians that groundwater should be enough to supply the city, even pumping at a rate of 50 million gallons per day. Houston eventually exceeded that and by 2010, northern Harris County alone was using 80 million gallons per day with future estimates placing the region at 120 million gallons per day by 2025. Houston overall, as of 2011, was using more than 200 million gallons every day, at times peaking at more than 450 million gallons per day during peak demand times.
The city of Houston has put years into planning a solution. That solution is finally here: A massive new pipeline that, when complete, will serve large swathes of the city and surrounding suburbs. Let’s go over the details.
Large Scale Pipeline Project
To get a sense of just how huge this project is, the water treatment plant at Lake Houston will need to be expanded to five times its current size in order to handle the increased volume of water. All told, more than 40 miles of pipeline will be laid. Currently, this is the largest waterworks project underway in the United States, one that experts in the industry from around the world are watching.
The new pipeline is expected to serve several major communities in northern Harris County, particularly in the northwestern section of the county. Communities to receive water from this pipeline include Spring, Tomball, Cypress and Katy.
Details about the Pipeline
This pipeline starts with three miles of waterways that will carry water over a ridge to a 23-mile canal system feeding into Lake Houston. From there, the water will be purified and then sent along another 17 miles of pipeline to northern Houston. The 17-mile network of piping will be humongous — large enough to drive a car through, by all reports.
At a cost of roughly $3 billion, the project will employ at least 2,500 people and when complete, will be able to handle 400 million gallons of water per day. Project managers forecast completion sometime in 2021.
The key driver behind this project is the rapid expansion that Houston has seen in recent years. The new pipeline will be large enough to handle the entire city’s demand for water in all but the most demanding conditions. Despite that, it is designed to serve only the northern portions of Harris County, chiefly the northwestern suburbs. This means that once complete, the pipeline will be more than able to serve these swiftly growing communities, easing insecurities about Houston’s future water supply once and for all.