A Brief History of the West Harris County Regional Water Authority

The West Harris County Regional Water Authority was created by HB 1842, introduced by Rep. Callegari and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jon Lindsay. The bill was approved by the 77th Texas Legislature, signed into law by Governor Perry on May 28, 2001, and immediately went into effect. The City of Katy consented to the creation of the Authority on May 21, 2001, and the City of Houston consented on June 6, 2001.

The Authority was created to accomplish the purposes of provision of surface water and groundwater for various uses, the reduction of groundwater withdrawals, the conservation, preservation, protection, recharge, and prevention of waste of groundwater and of groundwater reservoirs , the control of subsidence caused by withdrawal of water from those groundwater reservoirs, and other public purposes stated in the Act.

A Board, made up of nine directors who serve staggered four-year terms, governs the Authority. Directors must: (i) be at least 18 years of age; (ii) be a Texas resident; (iii) own land or be a qualified voter within the director precinct; and (iv) have served as a director of one or more districts for a total of at least four years. To serve as a director representing any part of the City of Katy, the individual must (i) meet the other specified qualifications, and (ii) must either meet the requirement of having served as a director of one or more districts for at least four years, or must have served as the mayor or a member of the city council of the City of Katy.

The Authority has completed its Groundwater Reduction Plan (GRP) certification and gained Harris Galveston Subsidence District (“the District”) approval in compliance with the District’s regulations requiring GRP. The District’s regulations require conversion to alternate water via a 30% reduction of groundwater usage by 2010; 60% by 2025; and 80% by 2030. Alternate water is typically surface water but can include conservation, direct or indirect reuse, or stormwater capture.  The District has implemented a $8.46 per 1,000 gallon disincentive fee for those failing to comply with these reductions.

Successful negotiations with the City of Houston yielded a mutually satisfactory long-term water supply contract between the Authority and the City. The Authority continues to implement numerous surface water delivery projects to deliver water to utility districts, and the first surface water was delivered in September 2005.

The Authority charges fees for surface water delivered by the Authority and for groundwater pumped by various water well owners. To date, WHCRWA has held numerous successful Bond Sales that have funded the many Capital Improvement Projects and paid the City of Houston for water supplies required by the long-term contract.

The Authority has been in existence since 2001, and the Board takes considerable pride in being able to announce such momentous accomplishments in that limited time period. The Authority has designed, purchased easements for, and constructed over 57 miles of new waterlines and constructed its Pump Station # 1, all of which will serve to deliver millions of gallons of surface water a day to a variety of utility districts. As of early 2014, the Authority is delivering Surface Water to 53 water plants, with 40 districts converted – or approximately 36% converted.

The Authority has an aggressive Capital Improvement Plan in place to meet the timelines that have been established for design and construction of the Authority’s facilities. In addition to its aggressive water line construction efforts, the Authority has been active in promoting water conservation education programs for use in public schools within their boundaries and for area residents. Each year, the Authority distributes a newsletter to residents in area subdivisions in order to provide current information about critical water issues.  The Authority also maintains a website – www.whcrwa.com — that contains pertinent information about the Authority, its construction projects, and ways to use our precious water supplies more efficiently.

The Authority is a proud partner in the Save Water Texas Coalition (SWTC), along with a growing list of cities, water providers, river authorities and conservation districts, municipal utility districts and regional water authorities.  SWTC ‘s mission is to promote public understanding and discourse about the challenge and opportunity to secure the state’s water future.  As part of this effort, the Coalition has launched a multi-media campaign to offer compelling, reliable and accurate information necessary to change wasteful water behaviors and habits. A comprehensive website (www.SaveWaterTexas.org) provides access to research information to validate water efficiency measures involving home, lawn and garden uses; and helps inform residents about drought contingency measures that will help stretch finite water resources into the future. The messages ask that before we turn on the tap we ask ourselves, “Is it worth the water?”