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Texas population growth expected to put strain on water supply

A Texas Water Development Board plan shows the state population is supposed to increase more than 70% by 2070, which is expected to strain our water supply.

GEORGETOWN, Texas — The City of Georgetown says its current water infrastructure will meet demand through 2052, and until 2057 with proper conservation efforts. But with more people expected to keep moving to the area, the City is trying to plan further ahead and keep up with demand. 

This challenge of trying to make sure water supply can keep up with population growth is being seen in many areas of Texas, as more people move here and more water is used.

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water,” said Todd Danielson, the vice president of engineering for Texas Water Utilities. “But we don't want to know that worth only when the well is dry, we need to think about it now.”

The state’s water plan shows the population of Texas is projected to increase by more than 70% during its current planning horizon, from 29.7 million in 2020 to nearly 51.5 million people in 2070. Much of this growth will happen here in Central Texas.

Danielson said we have enough water to last for decades to come, but the water needs to be managed properly. He said local governments should be adding to water infrastructure, utilizing rain and wastewater, and he added that the general public needs to help conserve water too.

“A showerhead uses a couple of gallons a minute,” said Danielson. “So, if a million people all saved two gallons in that day, now all of a sudden you get two million gallons of water. Two million gallons of water is enough for maybe 10,000 people.

Water conservation is something being promoted in Georgetown as the City works to keep up with population growth. The state’s water plan says 29% of water needs will come from conservation.

"Lake Georgetown is not going to get any bigger. Lake Stillhouse is not going to get bigger," said Chelsea Solomon, the City of Georgetown Water Utilities director. "So, conservation is going to have to be a very important process, or a very important aspect of our long-term water supply."

As they ask people to conserve, they are also building up infrastructure. They have three plants under construction now and other water projects in the works in order to make millions more gallons of water available. They have even needed to expedite projects to meet current demand.

“We have 8.8 million gallons coming online summer of next year, 44 million gallons coming on two summers after that,” said Solomon.

State water experts say if we can continue to grow resources and conserve, we will have enough water. But more changes need to be made.

“If we are able to build the reservoirs, to do the aquifer storage and recovery, to change the way that we use water, we will be able to provide water for the long term and to continue this great growth that Texas is seeing,” said Danielson.


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