Frequently Asked Questions
The WHCRWA divided the waterline into seven segments, and the number of segments determined the number of prime contracts to be awarded. For more information on contractors selected for each segment, please visit the Construction Information page.
Effective January 1, 2019, the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District’s disincentive fee for noncompliance with their regulatory plan will be $8.99 per thousand gallons. On April 1, 2017, the City of Houston implemented an automatic annual rate adjustment based on a combination of the 2016 Houston Regional Consumer Price Index and the City of Houston’s population increase. The disincentive permit fee, established in section 8801.161(a-1) of the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District Enabling Act, serves as a regulatory tool by creating a disincentive to continued over-reliance on groundwater. In 2016, the Board of Directors revised the disincentive permit fee to reflect increases in related cost factors and comparable water supply rates. The resolution established that the disincentive permit fee would be updated annually. The disincentive permit fee only applies to permittees who fail to comply with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District Regulatory Plan.
Yes, the WHCRWA is implementing safety measures for the SWSP pipeline. The waterline will be constructed out of high-quality steel that will be cathodically protected to guard against corrosion. Extra precautions will be taken at road, railway, and bayou crossings. The pipeline will be constructed with a minimum of 8 feet of cover and pipes will be pressure tested afterward. Regular, noninvasive monitoring and safety inspections will be conducted.
The size of the easement being acquired for construction varies along the route. Where possible, 50 feet of easement is being acquired. If you are impacted by the SWSP, it is likely that you have already been directly contacted by a member of the Surface Water Supply Project Right-of-Way (ROW) Acquisition team.
If you are concerned that your property may be impacted, please contact us at 1-844-638-SWSP (7977), by emailing through the Contact Us page on this website.
This project will supply to West Harris County and North Fort Bend residents the same water supply received by the City of Houston residents. The water supply will meet Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) water quality requirements, and blending studies will be conducted to ensure high water quality.
Because the West Harris County Regional Water Authority is buying the water from the City of Houston, the West Harris County Regional Water Authority is paying its share of the City of Houston’s overall water program. Specific elements of the City’s program include the Northeast Water Purification Plant Expansion and the LBITP, which will maintain the water level at Lake Houston by transferring water from the Trinity River. The City and the West Harris County Regional Water Authority’s customers will benefit from the shared operational efficiencies and cost savings resulting from this collaboration. Through this collaboration, these projects will be delivered faster and benefits will be realized sooner.
The West Harris County Regional Water Authority is paying for a share of the Coastal Water Authority’s Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project (LBITP), which will maintain the water level at Lake Houston by transferring water from the Trinity River. The purpose of the LBITP is to provide additional surface water supplies to end users that utilize water from Lake Houston. Additional surface water supplies will be transferred from the Trinity River to Lake Houston via the LBITP to meet the increased demand for surface water.
For more information about this project, visit the Coastal Water Authority’s page about the project.
The WHCRWA negotiated with the City of Houston to purchase additional surface water. The agreement between the City and the WHCRWA stipulates that the water must originate at the City of Houston Northeast Water Purification Plant, thereby excluding other regional surface water sources. To deliver the water from the required source, the WHCRWA took great care to choose a route that considers the residents, businesses, and existing infrastructure. The WHCRWA spent years researching and refining the route and worked with elected officials to choose the most cost-effective alignment with the least impacts to the community as a whole.
To minimize community impacts, the majority of the pipeline will be installed within an existing pipeline corridor purchased by the WHCRWA several years ago. This pipeline corridor, where accessible, has been maintained by the WHCRWA since its purchase.
This project is funded through bonds issued by the WHCRWA and the NFBWA. A significant portion of these bonds will be sold to the Texas Water Development Board through a statewide program specifically for financing water supply projects.
The total project costs are estimated to be more than $1 billion, and this project is funded solely by the water authorities. The WHCRWA’s and NFBWA’s interest payments and repayment of principal on the bonds to the Texas Water Development Board will be supported by each authority’s sale of surface water to their customers and pumpage fees charged on well water pumped within each authority. Local utility districts buy their surface water from the water authorities and/or pay pumpage fees on well water pumped within the authorities’ boundaries.
What opportunities are there for Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise to participate in the Surface Water Supply Project? What measures are being taken to involve these types of businesses in the contracting and implementation of the Surface Water Supply Project?
As a result of ongoing community outreach and the feedback received, the SWSP team has identified a strong desire for inclusion of local minority-owned and small businesses in the contracting and implementation of the SWSP. In response to the community feedback, the West Harris County Regional Water Authority will be undertaking a four-step approach to encourage diversity in contracting and implementation of the Surface Water Supply Project:
- Utilizing a database of certified local minority companies that can be accessed by prime contractors for inclusion in their bid
- Holding meetings to facilitate Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification
- Creating a resource event where potential prime contractors on the Surface Water Supply Project can meet potential minority subcontractors
- Tracking Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise participation on the Surface Water Supply Project on an annual basis
In accordance with this approach, the WHCRWA partnered with the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity to conduct four Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Pre-Certification Workshops in neighborhoods near the SWSP alignment in March 2017. The workshops were held at:
- Melrose Community Center on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
- Tidwell Community Center on Wednesday, March 22, 2017
- Fry Road Municipal Utility District Administration Building on Wednesday, March 29, 2017
- Acres Homes Multi-Service Center on Thursday, March 30, 2017
In accordance with this approach, the WHCRWA partnered with the City of Houston (COH) Ofﬁce of Business Opportunity (OBO) to conduct four M/WSBE and DBE Pre-certiﬁcation Workshops in neighborhoods near the project alignment. Following the facilitation of the M/WSBE and DBE Pre-certiﬁcation Workshops, the SWSP team held a Contractor Outreach Workshops in June 2018 and January 2019.
The purpose of these workshops is to provide information to potential contractors about the upcoming construction phase of the SWSP, project segments, bid package information, and opportunities for potential prime contractors to network with potential subcontractors. For more information about how you can do business with the SWSP, visit the “Doing Business” page.
For those who are interested in becoming Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise or Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certified by the City of Houston, the Office of Business Opportunity holds Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Pre-Certification Workshops every Thursday at 2 p.m. in their offices located at 611 Walker Street, 7th Floor Houston, Texas 77002. More information about these workshops can be found by following this link. The City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity also hosts videos about the certification process on their homepage.
Contracting opportunities may include, but are not limited to:
- Welding services
- Electrical services
- Pipefitting services
- Construction flagging services
- Dust abatement services
- Carpentry services
- Surveying services
- Landscaping services
- Trucking services
- Traffic control services
- Stormwater protection services
- Security services
- And many others
The West Harris County Regional Water Authority encourages subcontractors interested in submitting bids to the SWSP’s future prime contractors to utilize or be pre-certified as Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise or Disadvantaged Business Enterprise contractors through the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity.
The WHCRWA is working with NFBWA, Harris County, the City of Houston, and all applicable regulatory agencies to coordinate construction and minimize impacts along the entire route.
No, the SWSP will not negatively impact roadway conditions in the proximity of the project. As necessary, contractors will be required to repair damaged roadways that are impacted by construction.
Contractors working on the project will be easily identified by neon safety vests displaying the project logo. In areas where contractors are open cutting the alignment, temporary fencing will be installed around work areas in residential backyards. Construction equipment and materials will be secured when not in use.
No, the SWSP will not increase flooding. Prior to construction, contractors will be required to conduct land surveys, and after construction, land surface will be restored to preconstruction elevations.
Access to homes, churches, schools, and businesses will be maintained throughout construction of the project.
Contractors will be required to maintain safe and secure job sites. In areas where contractors are opencutting the alignment, temporary fencing will be installed around work areas in residential backyards, and open trenches will be covered at the end of each day for safety, either by backfilling the trench or covering the trench with steel plates. The trench will only be open in areas where the contractor is actively working each day. Trenches will be secured overnight. This is generally known as “cover-as-yougo.”
In areas where tunneling is required, the tunnel shafts must remain open; however, construction fencing will restrict access to the area and construction plates will be in place and secured to prevent access to the tunnels themselves when they are not in use.
When construction starts, residents, business owners, and anyone traveling in the vicinity of the project alignment may experience detours, access issues, and other construction activities associated with large-scale linear projects. In order to minimize these impacts, the majority of the pipeline will be installed within existing pipeline corridors. The public’s safety, ease of access, and well-marked detour information will be the priority throughout the life of the project. The WHCRWA is committed to communicating proactively and continuously with the public about this project.
The WHCRWA is working with the applicable agencies to coordinate construction and minimize impacts along the entire route. In addition to complying with all City of Houston ordinances regarding construction, including noise and air quality, the WHCRWA requires that its contractors go above and beyond to minimize disruption and implement best management practices. Major roads are planned to remain open during all traffic times. Safety is a key consideration, as contractors will be required to maintain safe job sites. In addition, the WHCRWA will inspect facilities and properties along the corridor on a regular basis.
As necessary, contractors will be required to repair damaged roadways that are impacted by construction. Access to churches, schools, businesses, and other properties will be maintained throughout construction. SWSP Program Managers will coordinate with these entities and local emergency services in advance to determine and communicate necessary road closures, identify appropriate detours, and phase construction so that disruption is minimized.
The project is currently in the final stage of design and is anticipated to be constructed in multiple segments, as determined by approved construction areas. Design also includes two pump stations. For updates regarding construction schedules, please visit the Construction Information page.
Although construction of the project is slated to occur from 2020 to 2024, no specific area is expected to be impacted for the entire four-year period. Construction activities in each segment are anticipated to last approximately six to nine months. For updates regarding construction schedules, please visit the Construction Information page.
The design phase began in 2016. Construction began with Segment 3 in early 2020, and delivery of surface water to WHCRWA and NFBWA residents through this line is scheduled to begin in late 2024.
Land subsidence is the sinking of the land surface. Pumping large amounts of groundwater causes the ground to settle, lowering the elevation of the land. Subsidence can cause damage to building foundations and public infrastructure.
From 1906 to 2000, up to seven feet of subsidence, or sinking of the land surface, has been measured in northwest Harris County. The Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, a special purpose district formed by the Texas Legislature in 1975 for the purpose of preventing land subsidence, has enacted a regulatory plan that requires WHCRWA to convert to 80 percent surface water by 2035. The SWSP is necessary to meet these conversion requirements.
To meet the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District and Fort Bend Subsidence District regulations, the WHCRWA has partnered with the NFBWA to deliver the SWSP.
The SWSP will supply surface water from Lake Houston by way of the City of Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant, through over 55 miles of large-diameter pipeline and two large pump stations. These transmission pipelines will vary in diameter from 96 inches to 42 inches, depending on the pipeline segment.
The SWSP starts at the City of Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant and extends to the west through north Houston to west Harris County, with segments that run south and southwest to north Fort Bend County.