LA MARQUE — The city produces about 1 million gallons of treated wastewater a day that ends up in Galveston Bay. 

But Councilman Clent Brown is hoping to find a way to divert that water so it can end up irrigating rice fields. 

For the past two years, rice farmers have had their water rights cut off as the drought continues to torch Texas. Rice farmers are left high and dry as water is diverted to other uses. 

But Brown said if La Marque and other local cities could work together, some of the treated effluent water from those municipalities could go to the farmers. 

“I’d like to try to promote some sort of organization to try to move this water wherever we could to get the rice farmers involved in it,” Brown said. 

The idea is in its infancy, but Brown said he spoke with a member of the Texas Water Development Board at a recent conference hosted by the local water authority about the idea. 

The proposal is an interesting one, said Ivan Langford, the general manager of the Gulf Coast Water Authority.

The water authority is already doing something similar with the city of Alvin and hoping to do work on a large scale reuse project with the city of Houston, he said.  

The authority is already able to take wastewater from the city of Alvin and put it back into the irrigation system south of the city, he said. It’s easy to do there because the wastewater is already near to existing drainage ditches. 

The costs increase when new infrastructure is needed to move the water around, he said. 

But while the idea is not necessarily new, the demand for irrigation water is more than any one city can keep up with. 

Langford said that when the Brazos River is full and farmers are allowed to use what they need there could be about 85 million gallons of water used for irrigation a day. 

“We are actually looking at reuse from the city of Houston,” he said. 

Langford said the water authority is looking into the possibility of acquiring treated wastewater from Houston, but while that would provide much more water for local water customers — municipalities, industry and agriculture — but it not as simple as just diverting the water. 

The wastewater from all the cities in the area ends up in Galveston Bay, Langford said. 

To simply cut off all that fresh water would be harmful to bay and adversely affect oyster growth and other marine life, he said. 

Reusing wastewater for agriculture and other uses will have to be a balancing act, Langford said. 

“Gulf Coast Water Authority is currently looking at multiple options to increase our water supply for our costumers and reuse is a big part of that,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Brown said he is hoping to get enough interest in the idea to get the ball rolling with other local municipalities. 

“If we can get all the cities involved in it we got a nice thing going,” he said.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or


(8) comments

Gary Miller

Parks and golf courses ae using waste (?) water.TC waste water is being used by industry.
Calling it waste water may be a mistake. Water can be reused over and over forever.
Wasted water is water that wasn't reused.
We must remember our coastal ecosystem needs fresh water as much as ( rice ) farmers do.
How much are rice farmers willing to pay for recycled water. They buy their water by the acre foot, ( 333,000 galons). Last price I remember for one acre ft was Just over $200.
A million gallons, 3 acre ft., of recycled LM water may be worth less than $1,000.
Can it be delivered at a profit for the farmers or the city?

Island Bred

This sort of remids me of the brew haha over the animal shelter. Lots of folks want it but the players that foot the bill don't include everyone that wants it..............If the city of La Marque has to pay one penny to do this - then NO. See if the city can use it first. Lots of questions about the diversion of water to farmers. We route plenty of subsidy to them already. Fix my streets first -

Robert Buckner

A lot of good points by IHOG and Margurite, is there a market for LM's treated sewage? Who will foot the bill to pipe it to farmers? Will revenue from sewer sales repair streets? Something smells here...

Todd Elliott

Surprise, surprise. Just like LM to spray their waste water on the rest of the county. They should pay the rest of us to put up with it. Waste water isn't fresh water, it is diluted sewage. The last thing I want is my rice is your fecal coliforms. No thanks!

Jim Forsythe

We don’t make new water, but we do reuse it. Water is predicted to become more costly than electricity for the average home.Think about your drinking water and were it comes from!
“The National Research Council (NRC) says that advances in treatment technology for municipal wastewater means water often flows out of treatment plants as clean as what many of us drink today. "With recent advances in technology and treatment design, potable reuse can reduce the concentrations of chemical and microbial contaminants to levels comparable to or lower than those present in many drinking water supplies," reports the Council, a Congressionally chartered scientific advisory body of the nation’s leading researchers, in a new study. " “Municipal wastewater reuse offers the potential to significantly increase the nation’s total available water resources.
"We also drink plenty of water from sources that contains wastewater discharged by communities upstream.”
“With technology getting better all the time, it won’t be long before former wastewater is pouring crystal clear from your tap, if it isn’t already”.
If you think that bottle water is better, you may be surprised that
“some bottled water comes from sparkling springs and other pristine sources. But more than 25 percent of it comes from a municipal supply. The water is treated, purified and sold to us, often at a thousand fold increase in price. Most people are surprised to learn that they’re drinking glorified tap water, but bottlers aren’t required to list the source on the label“.


Ahhhhhhhahahha! Ahhhhhhhhahahhha!!! Come now,'ll make that rice taste dirty. Dirty rice.lolololol. ( Best laugh I've had all week ).

Centerpointe Moderator

Many municipalities in the state are currently in a race to obtain re-use permits, which are sometimes called 210 authorizations in reference to the section of the Texas Administrative Code where the rules are located.

The City of Lake Jackson diverts its effluent to Dow Chemical. League City reportedly uses about 100 million gallons per day to irrigate local golf courses. In 2011, the City of Galveston began sending its treated effluent to Moody Gardens, which reportedly engages in tertiary treatment before using about a million gallons per day for grounds maintenance.

Thor, you shouldn't have to worry about fecal being an issue in re-used effluent. That stuff is efficiently killed by the treatment process, which was engineered to accomplish exactly that.

I'd be more interested in learning more about the fate and transport of pharmaceuticals in a human-consumption agricultural scenario, because pharmaceuticals are not totally removed by conventional water treatment processes. A lot of the studies that have been done have focused on risks that would be associated with water ingestion scenarios, but what about repeated applications to soil? Would drug residues accumulate faster than they'd break down? I have no idea about that stuff and haven't seen any studies along those lines.

Island Bred

That's probably one of the reasons they don't tell you to flush your meds anymore. You take them to a pharmacy or hospital or incinerate them. No more flushing. I'm just sayin that when we are on restriction perhaps the city would like to be able to use the resources it has instead of selling /or worst yet giving it away. It might be a very good idea to do - just not enough in that article to tell. I'm sure it will be cussed and recused at council and in the end my streets will still need repair and I will be told I can't water my lawn for fear of fines. I'm open to debate and I'm sure there will be one. It seems Mr Brown brought back a very interesting idea from a conference. That is a good thing I just hope that it is thoroughly vetted before it's voted - I have faith that it will be.

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