Massive Waterline Underway in Houston

By Mackrena Ramos

In 1985, the City of Houston created the Surface Water Transmission Program in response to a mandate issued by the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District to decrease the use of groundwater and increase surface water usage. The program’s goals included increasing surface water usage, decommissioning and minimizing the use of groundwater pump stations, increasing water system pressures, and addressing other large-diameter water line issues.

Since the program’s inception, the city has built hundreds of miles of large-diameter water lines to reduce the effects of subsidence and expedite the switch from groundwater to surface water. As part of these continuing efforts to meet subsidence goals and to comply with the region’s water demands spurred by population growth, the city is currently designing and constructing the Northeast Transmission Water Line (NETL).

The 16.5-mile NETL, which will be built in 13 segments starting this summer, will transmit surface water from the Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP) to the North Harris County Regional Water Authority’s meter station, west of IH-45. Upon completion, the $450 million water line can transmit as much as 96 million gallons per day (mgd) to the City of Houston and 269 mgd to four regional water authorities — North Harris County Regional Water Authority, Central Harris County Regional Water Authority, West Harris County Regional Water Authority, and the North Fort Bend Water Authority — as well as several municipal utility districts.

Along the way, the water line will also provide additional water to Bush Intercontinental Airport, the Greater Greenspoint Area, and surrounding areas currently receiving water from the existing 66-inch water line extending along the Greens Road corridor. Altogether, the water line will serve approximately 900,000 homes in Harris County.

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