Brazos Valley 2020: Water(less)World

By  | 

COLLEGE STATION, Tex (KBTX) - Too. Much. Water.

For the better part of a decade, Texas has dealt with more than it's fair share of flooding. What happens WHEN we go back to drought? What happens if there's not enough water?

“The interesting thing is we haven't run out yet and so we haven't experienced that," said Dr. John Tracy, the head of the Texas Water Resource Institute.

He's focused on the impacts of using too much water, too quickly. More than anything, it usually means our wallets are the first to take a hit.

"Finally you get to the point of depleting and running out of water, and that in itself is an impact, but what you typically see is you start increasing the cost of getting to groundwater," Tracy said.

"Groundwater levels go down, and you need to use more energy to pump the water. Everyone relying on an aquifer has to pay more.”

This is especially true in portions of Texas, where residents rely on relatively shallow aquifers.

The water we use here in the Brazos Valley is different (and deeper) than most across the state use. Where many depend on water closer to the surface (largely affected by the weather above) the Brazos Valley sits on top of a groundwater system thousands of feet below us, under a tremendous amount of pressure, that we use to pump into our taps. An illustration is available in the video above.

The good news is our water source won't likely be affected by an inevitable drought.

But it has to run out at some point, right? Will we ever have to resort to more desperate measures for our water? For example, from recycled water?

"We could use it, we could capture it, and store it underground, and do something called aquifer storage and recovery with it," said Jennifer Nations, the Water Resource Coordinator for the City of College Station.

"We could reclaim it and put it through an additional purification process and put it into drinking water."

Nations points to recent events, like the 2011 drought, where cities in the state of Texas considered taking such measures.

“Now, there's a whole lot more research into that. Ultraviolet light, advanced oxidation, and in many cases like in Wichita Falls, the effluent they were starting with was actually better than the raw water source that they had been getting it from.”

In other words, yes, we could do it. In fact, the city is already using "recycled" water to irrigate some of the fields at Veterans Park.

But will we see this water coming out our faucet any time soon?

"We have no plans on the books to right now, say in 2025 that's going to be our drinking water source," Nations said. "But that's something that some utilities are looking at. It's something that we've looked at as well.”

There you have it. Whether from the ground, or from, well, us, water is a high priority for the Brazos Valley.

The Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District says despite population growth, water use has actually come DOWN since 2015.