College Station looking at future water sources, including wastewater

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 5:20 PM CST
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The City of College Station is looking at where we will get our water in the far off future and every option is on the table. As the community grows, they want to reduce reliance on the aquifer. Right now, all of the city's drinking water comes from groundwater.

Some of the far off options could include drawing water from the Brazos River, treating salt water in the ground, or recharging the aquifer with treated wastewater. Another measure would be sending wastewater directly back into the supply after it's made drinkable. The City of Wichita Falls began doing that several years ago when they had a severe drought.

"We do get a significant amount of rain, so it's never seemed as a concern," said College Station resident Aaron Morris.

Some residents said they wouldn't think twice about drinking treated wastewater, but Morris said he sees why people would have to get used to the idea.

"Yes, it is safe, but it's kind of in the back of your mind, you know, what you're drinking doesn't sound too good," he said.

The city is currently digging its 9th water well in the northern part of Brazos County. They said it will help meet the city's growth. David Coleman, Director of Water Services for College Station, said conservation and preparing for the future are important.

"It is really important because our aquifer is a finite resource," he said.

Coleman said drawing water form other sources like the Brazos River could cost $46 million. Treating wastewater and making it drinkable could cost $119 million. While these ideas may sound surprising, Coleman said it's still decades away from happening here.

"Technology is going to change a lot between now and then, so we're going to keep our ear to the track and see what other options might come and some of these options may become more feasible," he said.

"We've been relying on groundwater and it has served us well up to this point and we want it to serve us well into the future but we must preserve it," said Jennifer Nations, College Station Water Resource Coordinator.

"The city is growing. Houston growing this direction it's only going to get more crowded," said Morris.

City officials aren't making a decision anytime soon. It could be 50 to 100 years before pumping levels would be required to be lowered in the aquifer.