Residents and businesses in League City use about 10 million gallons of surface water a day on average. The record of a single day is 20.5 million gallons.
But the largest city in Galveston County is still growing, and with a greater population, there will be a greater demand, officials say.
“It’s one of our single biggest needs moving forward,” City Manager John Baumgartner said.
The city has a capacity for about 25 million gallons a day of surface water, said Sarah Greer Osborne, spokeswoman for the city.
Only about 52 percent of League City is developed, most of it to the east of Interstate 45, officials said. Projections show that, once fully developed, the city’s population could rise above 200,000, Mayor Pat Hallisey said.
Officials estimate that could mean eventually doubling the city’s surface water capacity, but it would come at a cost, Baumgartner said.
“Some dollars are for a new water supply, some are coming from annual costs and then there are capital investment and ongoing operations and maintenance costs,” Baumgartner said.
Securing an additional water supply and implementing a forthcoming water master plan that would address those costs and questions is the top item in the city’s new strategic plan.
The city council Tuesday approved the plan, which includes 13 different action items for addressing water planning, records show.
“You basically have three choices,” Baumgartner said. “There’s desalination, which is expensive. You can try to get water from the Brazos River through the Gulf Coast Water Authority. But that source of water in my mind is a little oversubscribed during drought years. Which brings us back to Houston.”
League City, unlike most other Galveston County cities, does not receive most of its water from the Brazos River. Rather, League City is supplied mostly by the Trinity River via a contract with the city of Houston.
The water comes through water purification plant on Genoa Red Bluff Road, Hallisey said.
“Houston draws Trinity River water and supplies it down to the plant, along with four or five other locations around the area,” Hallisey said.
One of the action items on the strategic plan calls for city officials to negotiate with Houston for an increased water capacity, but that’s just one of several steps, Baumgartner said.
The plan calls for city staff to finalize a raw water supply agreement with Houston by Dec. 31 and to finalize a water line agreement by March 1, 2019, records show.
“We’re optimistic we’ll have something,” Baumgartner said. “Conversations are ongoing, and it’s absolutely possible we could have something before then.”
To receive an additional supply from Houston, the city has started to expand part of the water line between the plant and League City. The project could ultimately cost as much as $55 million, Baumgartner said.
The city must cover $10 million of that cost during the next fiscal year, Baumgartner said.
Completing a new water and sewer master plan, which the strategic plan calls for by Oct. 31, will help direct planning moving forward, Baumgartner said.
The city council will eventually need to consider ways to pay for some of the expenses. The options could including increasing capital recovery fees charged on all new homes and taking on debt.
“To fully develop a new water supply is not just one project,” Baumgartner said. “It’s a series. You’re dealing with big numbers.”