Sugar Land negotiates two new water agreements with GCWA
By Betsy Dolan
The City of Sugar Land and the Gulf Coast Water Authority appear to have come to terms on two new water agreements that will allow the city more flexibility in its future water management.
A new System Raw Water Availability agreement was negotiated by the West Customers Group–made up of Sugar Land, Pearland, Missouri City and Water Control & Improvements District No. 2. The new agreement allows the WCG to only pay for the water it needs at full price with the option of holding water it may need in the future.
“This project is essential to improving the reliability of the water supply available to the City of Sugar Land from the GCWA. It was in the city’s best interest to get this done”, said City Manager Allen Bogard.
Since 1997, Sugar Land has had an Option Contract with GCWA, which allowed customers to hold a certain quantity of water for future use. Sugar Land’s contract was for 20 MGD (million gallons per day) regardless of how much or how little of that water the city actually used.
“So if we only used one gallon, that would exercise our option agreement and would have to pay a full rate for the full 20 MGD”, Rich Ramirez, Intergovernmental Relations Manager said. “The new agreement lets us buy the 10 MGD we need without paying for 20”.
The city also has the right of first refusal on any water it doesn’t use as part of the agreement.
No more AMIL gates
Sugar Land and the GCWA have also successfully negotiated an agreement to replace the aging AMIL gates on Oyster Creek near Highway 6 and U.S. 90A.
The AMIL gates were installed in the 1970’s as a flood control measure to work with the dam system along Oyster Creek. The gates open and close depending on the elevation of the water along Oyster Creek and Brooks Lake.
The gates have been a long time concern for the city and the GCWA. An estimated 5 to 15 MGD flow around and under the gates every day. The gates were repaired three years ago but the project did not address the water loss issue.
The solution is to build a water-tight dam structure called a weir. It will provide storm surge relief without the dry-weather water loss.
“Protecting against the storm surge is essential to avoid flooding in First Colony”, said Bogard.
Sugar Land is paying $1.7 mil for the engineering and construction and will get half of the cost back in credit from the GCWA to put toward the system agreement.
The two agreements are part of a settlement reached in 2012 between Sugar Land and the GCWA over water rights along Oyster Creek.
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