Texas transformed from a seemingly drought-free state to statewide drought in the course of just one (1) year, as mentioned in the Texas Water Management Plan for 2017. The drought of 2011 was the worst one-year drought in Texas history and it served as a wake-up call to water provider across the state.
As the population and development continue to prosper across the state, it is essential for water providers to look for new and innovative solutions to sustain the fast-tracked growth of the state. A great example of this was observed by one of our BRD team members who alongside the AWWA/WEAT local chapter attended a tour of the newly operating San Antonio Water Systems (SAWS) Desalination Plant. The desalination plant, located at the H2Oaks Center in San Antonio, has been able to produce 12 million gallons of drinking water each day. This is achieved by treating salty (brackish) water from the Wilcox Aquifer which removes 99.9 percent of salts and minerals from the water through reverse osmosis.
The brackish water from the Wilcox Aquifer is pumped from as deep as 1,500 feet below ground and is therefore not very sensitive to drought conditions. Since the San Antonio Region relies heavily on the Edwards Aquifer for water supply, the use of desalinated water will reduce the region’s dependence on the Edwards Aquifer which is susceptible to drought conditions. This means less water restrictions in the summer months and additional water for the San Antonio area to grow.
New and unique methods of water supply like the SAWS desalination plant will ensure that population, and in turn development, continues to grow across the state.