Is the new water company sucking up our greatly needed water supply?

By Elsa Maxey 

One would think that since there’s a water bottling company operating locally, the idea of having water to take care of one’s basic needs would not come up. But about a handful of residents in Fort Bend are wondering how it is that the newly operating Niagara water company in Missouri City can supply large volumes of bottled water during this period of drought. If there’s a drought, where’s the plentiful water supply they need to operate coming from, they’ve asked. “Isn’t that taking from the rest of us, our Fort Bend water supply sold to everyone else while we may have do without?”

This area is no doubt in a drought, which is also the case statewide. Just last week, the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court even took action along those lines by issuing a burn ban that is to be in effect for 90 days, prohibiting outdoor burning in the county due to dry conditions.

Confirming the drought state of the area is the Fort Bend County Water Control and Improvement District (FBWCID) No. 2 indicating “this is also statewide and beyond the state,” said General Manager Owen Matherne. WCID No. 2 supplies water to Niagara water bottling company “just as it does to other commercial and residential customers,” said Matherne. The agreement is just like every agreement the district has with each water customer requiring “that they have a connection and that they follow the district rate orders and policies,” said the district’s engineer Jason Kirby.

Breakdown data shared by FBWCID No. 2 shows that in July, it provided 50 million gallons of water per month to residential/families, 49 million gallons to commercial, 30 million gallons to multi family, and 26 million went to landscaping. The water district has about 7,000 connections serving an estimated population of about 18,000.

“We started planning for that (greater demand) 25 to 30 years ago for the anticipated future growth of the district, and we entered into a water contract with the Gulf Coast Water Authority 20 years ago,” said Matherne about the district’s long term planning.

FBWCID No. 2 gets its surface water from there, the Gulf Coast Water Authority (Brazos River water), and it also has ground water facilities and pumps water out of the aquifer with emergency power back-up generators, when needed. The FBWCID No. 2 operation helped serve as the prototype in Fort Bend as it began its groundwater to surface water transition ahead of an unfunded state mandate, which was extended from 2013 to 2015.

“The district can produce 17 million gallons of water per day,” said Matherne, and it currently averages eight to ten million gallons of water per day.

Being in a drought does not equate being in an immediate water shortage, explained the district’s engineer, Kirby. He also said that some areas completely dependent on surface water may have a water shortage. “Every entity looks at their own supply and demand based on their individual needs,” in relation to its supply.

The FBWCID No. 2, which primarily serves the City of Stafford, a portion of Missouri City and Sugar Land and even a sliver of Harris County and other customers, previously served Texas Instruments, which shut down in Stafford last year. Niagara’s newly launched operation in Fort Bend helped create almost 100 jobs as it got started. Missouri City, Fort Bend County, and FBWC&ID #2 granted it property tax abatements, and needed water and sewer improvements were managed by the water district.

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Posted by on Aug 21 2013. Filed under Breaking News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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