Rapid population growth impacts College Station infrastructure

Published: May. 20, 2016 at 9:34 PM CDT
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College Station is the 18th fastest growing city in the country, according to a population estimate released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It's good news for the local economy overall, but it does not come without setbacks. As more and more people come to the area, the lack of housing and other infrastructure faults are intensified.

Debbie Eller is College Station's director of community services, and knows all too well the growing pains that come with an increasing population.

"It puts challenges on our infrastructure, our school districts, on our housing stock that we have here. It's challenging to meet the housing needs of our current population,” said Eller.

David Coleman runs the College Station's water services. He says the city has had to adjust their plans to keep up with the increase in demand, let alone plan for future increases.

"It's probably around a two-to-three percent growth rate, which may not sound like much, but when you are planning infrastructure, that's a lot of people," said Coleman.

The growing demand for water and sewage in the city could cost a pretty penny. Coleman says they will bring ten different infrastructure plans to the city council next week in an effort to keep up with demand.

"We are looking at, over the next ten years, in the neighborhood of $150 million of capital projects just to stay ahead of growth," said Coleman.

That $150 million would accommodate the city's wastewater. Projects to sustain the population's drinking water would cost an additional estimated $28 million.

For now, some College Station citizens are feeling a pinch in their pocket books. Eller says the average family of four is struggling to pay for housing. The Bryan/College Station area has recently seen housing prices reach all-time highs.

"The average sales price right now is $180,000 for a single family home, so that has increased by ten percent in the last year,” said Eller.

The average family of four living on a median household income in College Station can afford a $140,000 home, while the average house price is $40,000 higher at $180,000.

Eller says the city can direct residents to resources if they need help with those costs, providing some help balancing this discrepancy.