Coming to the Surface

by Showri Nandagiri, P.E., Deputy Dir. of the Engrg. Constr. and Real Estate Div.; Houston Dept. of Public Works, Houston, TX,
Rafael Ortega, P.E., Proj. Mgr.; Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc., Houston, TX,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 10, Pg. 48-51

Document Type: Feature article


In the past few years, the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and much of Texas have experienced less than normal rainfall and record water demands. During this period, average daily water demand in Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, has increased from about 345 to 425 mgd (1.3 million to 1.6 million m�/d)�a jump of almost 20 percent. Additionally, the city pumps about 50 percent of its total groundwater used within an 8 mi (13 km) radius from the Jersey Village groundwater well field, in northwest Houston. Wells in this area are experiencing severe problems with regard to quality and quantity because of declining groundwater recharge into the pumped aquifers. Because of groundwater pumping restrictions and reliability concerns, Houston has embarked on an accelerated conversion project to increase the amount of water it provides to its northwestern section. The $150-million Accelerated Surface Water Transmission Program (ASWTP) is the latesst in a series of multiyear, multimillion-dollar pipeline projects begun by Houston in 1985 to convert its water supply from primarily a groundwater system to one that relies on surface water. The conversion, which has already placed more than 100 mi (160 km) of 24 to 96 in. (600 to 2,400 mm) diameter surface water transmission pipes in the city, is mandated by the Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District (HGCSD) to reduce subsidence and supplement decreasing groundwater capacity.

Subject Headings: Groundwater depletion | Surface water | Pumps | Wells (water) | Water pipelines | Urban areas | Sea water

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