Planning For Reliable Water Delivery
Updated: Oct 21, 2021
By Wayne G. Ahrens, P.E.
DEC Principal, Houston Public Works
Wayne G. Ahrens, P.E., has more than 50 years of experience on more than 150 civil engineering projects across Texas. His design, as well as project and program management experience, covers the gamut from water supply and distribution systems to drainage, flood control, and sewage system projects.
Texas population will grow by 73 percent by 2070
Water sources are limited
Water providers are challenged to fund projects to maintain and expand aging water delivery systems
Water projects to meet water needs in Texas through 2070 will cost an estimated $80 billion
DEC has experience in helping clients plan, fund, build and maintain reliable water delivery systems, including securing almost $1 billion in state funding for the West Harris County Regional Water Authority
Reliable tap water is something we don’t think about until we don’t have it. At DEC, our engineers work with water providers to ensure reliable water delivery for the health, safety and growth of the communities we serve, now and into the future.
Across the state, water utilities face growing challenges from aging infrastructure, population growth and access to reliable water supplies, especially during extended drought. Finding adequate funding to improve and/or expand water delivery systems will continue to be one of their biggest hurdles.
Through the decades, DEC engineers have helped countless regional water utilities and communities plan, finance, design and build facilities of all types and sizes. In observation of Imagine a Day Without Water on Oct. 21, let’s take a moment to understand these challenges and how to overcome them.
$80 BILLION PRICE TAG
According to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), Texas’ population is expected to increase 73 percent between 2020 and 2070, from 29.7 million people to 51.5 million. In the last decade, the state’s population has grown by 4 million. That’s almost double Houston’s current population of 2.3 million, according to the U.S. Census.
TWDB’s newly adopted 2022 State Water Plan estimates an $80 billion price tag to implement more than 2,400 recommended water management strategy projects by 2070 to ensure reliable water supplies for this growing population. Municipalities and wholesale water providers report needing $47 billion in state funding to implement the projects.
Local, state and federal funding – all are needed to repair decades-old water delivery systems and build new systems to ensure reliable water supplies.
A SUCCESS STORY
Water providers can benefit from partnering with experts like DEC to design and fund water delivery systems. As one example, DEC has secured $957 million in TWDB capital project funding for the West Harris County Regional Water Authority (WHCRWA). One of the largest water supply programs in the region, DEC manages the $1.8 billion program in coordination with 120 municipal utility districts, cities, and regulatory agencies.
DEC is responsible for all aspects, including population and water demand projections, strategic planning, budgeting, scheduling, environmental permitting, technical design and construction, as well as providing technical review management of design by outside engineering firms, construction management, hydraulic modeling, right-of-way acquisition, survey support, and contract negotiations support.
For the West Harris County program, we lead a team of internal and external professionals tasked with designing and building more than 100 miles of pipelines and three booster pump stations to deliver more than 150 million gallons a day of surface water to the service area’s growing population.