I don’t know how I feel about this.
After decades of fits and starts, Houston is pushing forward with plans to move Trinity water nearly 30 miles to Lake Houston. The reservoir, located on the smaller San Jacinto River, fills the taps for millions of people in the region.
Planners say the Luce Bayou project, a nearly $300 million pipeline and canal, would provide water to the ever-swelling city and suburbs while helping with the area’s planned conversion from groundwater. The newly adopted state water plan identifies it among the key strategies to slake the region’s thirst in 2060.
While population growth and a wicked drought boost the prospects for the mega-plumbing job, critics are asking how much water does Houston need. To their dismay, the answer is always the same: More than it has.
The project, they say, could invite too much growth, encourage more transfers from water-rich East Texas and damage native habitats along the Trinity and in the bay.
“This project is a game changer,” said Brandt Mannchen, of the Sierra Club’s Houston group.
The push comes amid state forecasts showing the 15-county Houston region growing from 6 million people to 11 million during the next half-century.
The new state water plan also identifies five new major reservoirs by 2060 to provide enough water for the region in times of drought.
Critics say the state plan promotes more pumps, pipes, dams and canals ahead of saving existing water. Although the plan calls for 12 percent of the supply in 2060 to come from conservation, they say more could be done.
With Luce Bayou, “we will have capacity well into the future,” said Jim Lester, a water policy expert at the Houston Advanced Research Center. “My fundamental problem with this is, we are doing so little on conservation.”
The plan referenced is this one, which I noted in October. There’s not enough in the story for me to judge this plan – PDiddie is singularly unimpressed – but I definitely concur with Jim Lester that we’re not doing enough to conserve water. Whatever the merits of this project, I’d really like to see a more aggressive approach taken to conservation, which in the long run will be far less expensive than any expansion project we might undertake.