Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for visiting the Frequently Asked Questions page for the Surface Water Supply Project!

If you do not find the answer to your specific question or concern here, please contact the Surface Water Supply Project Outreach Team at 1-844-638-SWSP (7977), or through the Contact Us portal on this project website.

What is the Surface Water Supply Project?

To meet the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District and Fort Bend Subsidence District regulations, the West Harris County Regional Water Authority has partnered with the North Fort Bend Water Authority to deliver the Surface Water Supply Project.

The Surface Water Supply Project will supply surface water from Lake Houston by way of the City of Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant, through approximately 39 miles of an 8-foot-diameter pipeline and two large pump stations.

The Surface Water Supply Project starts at the City of Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant and extends to the west through north Houston to west Harris County.

Why is the Surface Water Supply Project being implemented?

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 West Harris County Regional Water Authority to convert to 80 percent surface water by 2035. The Surface Water Supply Project is necessary to meet these conversion requirements.

What is land subsidence?

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.

What is the timeline for the Surface Water Supply Project?

The design phase began in 2016. Construction is anticipated to begin in summer 2019, and delivery of surface water to West Harris County Regional Water Authority and North Fort Bend Water Authority residents through this line is scheduled to begin in late 2022.

How long would construction take in my area?

Although the construction phase of the project is slated to occur from mid-2019 to 2022, no specific area is expected to be impacted for the entire three-year period. The West Harris activities in each segment are anticipated to last approximately six to nine months. When more detailed designs are complete for the project, more detailed construction timeline will be available.

In how many segments would the waterline be constructed?

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. The number of construction contracts awarded by the West Harris County Regional Water Authority will determine the construction phasing for the transmission line in accordance with the number of segments, and this has not been determined at this time.

What are the anticipated effects of the Surface Water Supply Project?

When construction starts in mid-2019, 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 West Harris County Regional Water Authority is committed to communicating proactively and continuously with the public about this project.

The West Harris County Regional Water Authority 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 West Harris County Regional Water Authority requires that its contractors go above and beyond to minimize disruption and implement Best Management Practices. Roads are not planned to be closed during peak traffic times. Contractors will be required to follow dust suppression measures, including the use of water trucks and cleaning of streets. They will also be contractually required to maintain safe job sites, including providing temporary fencing and/or barricades. The West Harris County Regional Water Authority will contract with consultants to inspect facilities and property along the alignment on a regular basis.

Before construction, the contractors must assess the conditions of the roadways that will be impacted. Access to churches, schools, and business will be maintained throughout project construction. The contractors will coordinate with these entities to try to phase construction during a time that is least disruptive.

What will be done about noise from the Surface Water Supply Project construction?

Construction will be conducted in compliance with state and local government noise level requirements and the West Harris County Regional Water Authority will require that contractors make every effort to avoid and minimize construction related noise impacts through the use of proven best management practices, such as limited working hours and other methods.

How will the Surface Water Supply Project impact air quality? What will be done to protect the air quality in the project area?

Construction will be conducted in compliance with state and local government air quality requirements and the West Harris County Regional Water Authority will require that contractors make every effort to avoid and minimize construction related air quality impacts through the use of proven best management practices such as the use of dust suppression methods and others.

How will you restrict access to the Surface Water Supply Project areas?

Contractors will be required to maintain safe and secure job sites, including providing temporary construction fencing and/or barricades and securing construction equipment/materials when not in use.

In areas where contractors are open-cutting the alignment, construction crews are required to “cover as they go,” meaning they will be required to backfill during work hours as they move along the alignment. It is not anticipated that large areas will be left open for extended periods of time.

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.

Will I be able to access my home/church/child’s school/home/etc. during construction?

Access to homes, churches, schools, and businesses will be maintained throughout construction of the project.

Will the Surface Water Supply Project increase flooding?

No, the Surface Water Supply Project will not increase flooding. Prior to construction, contractors will be required to conduct land surveys, and after construction, land surface will be restored to pre-construction elevations.

What will be done to prevent crime associated with the Surface Water Supply Project?

Contractors working on the project will be easily identified by neon safety vests displaying the project logo. If existing fences must be removed during construction, temporary fencing will be erected to maintain access control to property. Construction equipment and materials will be secured when not in use.

Will the Surface Water Supply Project’s construction leave community roads in poor condition?

No, the Surface Water Supply Project will not negatively impact roadway conditions in the proximity of the project. Before construction, the contractors will assess the conditions of the existing roadways, and contractors will be required to restore impacted roadways to pre-construction conditions following transmission line construction.

Are you coordinating with other agencies to coordinate the efficient construction of the project?

The West Harris County Regional Water Authority is working with North Fort Bend Water Authority, Harris County, the City of Houston, and all applicable regulatory agencies to coordinate construction and minimize impacts along the entire route.

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 Surface Water Supply Project team has identified a strong desire for inclusion of local minority-owned and small businesses in the contracting and implementation of the Surface Water Supply Project. 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 West Harris County Regional Water Authority 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 Surface Water Supply Project 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

All workshops were held from 12 to 2 p.m., and lunch was provided from local small businesses. A summary of these workshops is available here.

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 Surface Water Supply Project’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.

Who is paying for the Surface Water Supply Project? How is this project being funded?

This project is funded through bonds issued by the West Harris County Regional Water Authority and the North Fort Bend Water Authority. 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 West Harris County Regional Water Authority’s and North Fort Bend Water Authority’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.

How was the alignment chosen for the Surface Water Supply Project?

The West Harris County Regional Water Authority negotiated with the City of Houston to purchase additional surface water. The agreement between the City and the West Harris County Regional Water Authority stipulates that the water must originate at the City of Houston Northeast Water Purification Plant (Northeast Water Purification Plant), thereby excluding other regional surface water sources. To deliver the water from the required source, the West Harris County Regional Water Authority took great care to choose a route that considers the residents, businesses, and existing infrastructure. The West Harris County Regional Water Authority 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 West Harris County Regional Water Authority several years ago. This pipeline corridor, where accessible, has been maintained by the West Harris County Regional Water Authority since its purchase.

How would the Surface Water Supply Project impact Lake Houston’s water levels?

The West Harris County Regional Water Authority is paying for a share of the Coastal Water Authority’s (Coastal Water Authority) 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 at https://www.coastalwaterauthority.org/contractor-outreach/luce-bayou-project

Would the Surface Water Supply Project provide any benefits to residents and businesses along the waterline alignment that are not located within the West Harris County Regional Water Authority or North Fort Bend Water Authority boundaries?

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.

Will the Surface Water Supply Project impact my water quality? Will consumers in West Harris County receive different water than the City of Houston?

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 water quality requirements, and blending studies will be conducted to ensure high water quality.

What size is the easement being acquired for Surface Water Supply Project construction?

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 Surface Water Supply Project, it is likely that you have already been directly contacted by a member of the Surface Water Supply Project Right-of-Way 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 portal on this project website or at https://www.surfacewatersupplyproject.com/contact/.

Is the Surface Water Supply Project pipeline safe?

Yes, the West Harris County Regional Water Authority is implementing safety measures for the Surface Water Supply Project 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 eight feet of cover and pipes will be pressure tested afterward. Regular, noninvasive monitoring and safety inspections will be conducted.

What would happen if the West Harris County Regional Water Authority and the North Fort Bend Water Authority did not comply with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District Groundwater Reduction Plan?

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.

How are the contracts for the construction of the Surface Water Supply project being awarded?

The project is currently in the design phase. The West Harris County Regional Water Authority is currently deciding how to divide the waterline into segments, and the number of segments will inform the number of prime contracts to be awarded. The prime contractor selection process will not begin until these decisions have been made. The West Harris County Regional Water Authority is also currently deciding the method by which they will accept bids. The West Harris County Regional Water Authority is deciding between competitive sealed proposals and regular competitive bids with minimum qualifications.

What is the West Harris County Regional Water Authority?

Established in 2001 by the 77th Texas Legislature, the West Harris County Regional Water Authority supplies surface water to the western region of Harris County. The Authority has several objectives:

  • To acquire and provide a reliable supply of surface water;
  • To conserve, preserve, protect, and recharge groundwater resources;
  • To facilitate compliance with subsidence district requirements; and
  • To encourage water conservation.

 

Is my property located within the Surface Water Supply Project alignment?

If you have questions about individual properties, please contact the Project Team at our toll-free hotline at 1-844-638-SWSP (7977), by emailing info@surfacewatersupplyproject.com, or through the Contact Usportal on this project website also found at https://www.surfacewatersupplyproject.com/contact/.

Who do I contact if I have a future questions about the project?

More information about the Surface Water Supply Project is available by calling our toll-free hotline at 1-844-638-SWSP (7977), by emailing info@surfacewatersupplyproject.com, or through the Contact Usportal on this project website also found at https://www.surfacewatersupplyproject.com/contact/.

CONTACT INFORMATION

If you have questions, concerns, or feedback related to the Surface Water Supply Project, please contact the Surface Water Supply Project team by calling 1-844-638-SWSP (7977), or emailing info@surfacewatersupplyproject.com.

ABOUT THE WHCRWA

The WHCRWA was established in 2001 to supply surface water to the western region of Harris County. The WHCRWA service area includes approximately 120 municipal water providers within the boundaries of the WHCRWA and seven located outside of the WHCRWA boundaries. As mandated by the Texas legislature, the WHCRWA has several objectives:
  • To acquire and provide a reliable supply of surface water
  • To conserve, preserve, protect, and recharge groundwater resources
  • To facilitate compliance with subsidence district requirements
  • To encourage water conservation

ABOUT THE NFBWA

The NFBWA was established in 2005 to supply surface water to the northern region of Fort Bend County. The NFBWA service area includes approximately 69 utility districts and two cities, Fulshear and Arcola. Although this project is directly sponsored by the WHCRWA, the NFBWA is funding approximately 45 percent of the total cost and is a beneficiary of the surface water to be provided by the Surface Water Supply Project.

DISCLAIMER

The content contained in this website is provided by West Harris County Regional Water Authority (The "Authority") as a service to you. This website and the information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as information for the purposes of securities disclosure about the authority or its financial condition. Persons should not rely upon this information when considering whether to buy, sell or hold bonds issued by the Authority. All information contained herein speaks only as of the date indicated. The Authority assumes no duty to update any information contained in this website at any time.