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La Marque looks to divert wastewater to rice fields - The Galveston County Daily News : Local News

November 27, 2014

La Marque looks to divert wastewater to rice fields

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Posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014 1:15 am

LA MARQUE — The city produces about 1 million gallons of treated wastewater a day that ends up in Galveston Bay. 

But Councilman Clent Brown is hoping to find a way to divert that water so it can end up irrigating rice fields. 

For the past two years, rice farmers have had their water rights cut off as the drought continues to torch Texas. Rice farmers are left high and dry as water is diverted to other uses. 

But Brown said if La Marque and other local cities could work together, some of the treated effluent water from those municipalities could go to the farmers. 

“I’d like to try to promote some sort of organization to try to move this water wherever we could to get the rice farmers involved in it,” Brown said. 

The idea is in its infancy, but Brown said he spoke with a member of the Texas Water Development Board at a recent conference hosted by the local water authority about the idea. 

The proposal is an interesting one, said Ivan Langford, the general manager of the Gulf Coast Water Authority.

The water authority is already doing something similar with the city of Alvin and hoping to do work on a large scale reuse project with the city of Houston, he said.  

The authority is already able to take wastewater from the city of Alvin and put it back into the irrigation system south of the city, he said. It’s easy to do there because the wastewater is already near to existing drainage ditches. 

The costs increase when new infrastructure is needed to move the water around, he said. 

But while the idea is not necessarily new, the demand for irrigation water is more than any one city can keep up with. 

Langford said that when the Brazos River is full and farmers are allowed to use what they need there could be about 85 million gallons of water used for irrigation a day. 

“We are actually looking at reuse from the city of Houston,” he said. 

Langford said the water authority is looking into the possibility of acquiring treated wastewater from Houston, but while that would provide much more water for local water customers — municipalities, industry and agriculture — but it not as simple as just diverting the water. 

The wastewater from all the cities in the area ends up in Galveston Bay, Langford said. 

To simply cut off all that fresh water would be harmful to bay and adversely affect oyster growth and other marine life, he said. 

Reusing wastewater for agriculture and other uses will have to be a balancing act, Langford said. 

“Gulf Coast Water Authority is currently looking at multiple options to increase our water supply for our costumers and reuse is a big part of that,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Brown said he is hoping to get enough interest in the idea to get the ball rolling with other local municipalities. 

“If we can get all the cities involved in it we got a nice thing going,” he said.