Money for water: HCPUA seeks funding for Kyle-Buda pipeline

By Andy Sevilla

A regional water group is applying for state funding to build a pipeline to transport water from Kyle to Buda.

The Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA) submitted an application to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Tuesday to be considered amongst the projects in the running for funding.

In 2013, Texas voters approved the shifting of $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the TWDB for a program — the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) — aimed at providing affordable, ongoing state financial help for water projects in the state’s plan.

HCPUA seeks $12 million to construct the first-leg of its proposed 42-mile pipeline that ultimately will bring water from the Carrizo Aquifer in Gonzales County to quench the thirst of cities along I-35 in Hays County, and of a regional water authority that represents several area not-for-profit water supply corporations.

Feb. 3 was the deadline for the first round of SWIFT dollars in FY2015. The TWDB will then rank the applications. Those that make the cut will be asked to submit a more robust financial application. Once the technical review is complete, the project will be presented to the board for funding consideration. 

The SWIFT program offers low interest loans, not grants. Loan closing could come as soon as November for the first round of funding.

HCPUA has a draft infrastructure plan showing how the agency will move the Carrizo water permitted by the Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District (GCUWCD) to its members. The plan calls for about $200 million in infrastructure investment.

“Our intent and this agency’s direction has been to defer that investment as long as possible until aggregate sponsors need that water,” HCPUA Director Graham Moore said at a Jan. 28 board meeting.

Moore said the agency is trying to develop the project in time for expected growth in Hays, but not well ahead of it. 

“However, we do have to build the first piece of infrastructure, which does tie the Kyle and Buda systems together,” he said.

He said data shows Buda will need water as soon as 2017. Because of that identified need, Buda city leaders riled many homeowners in western Hays County by agreeing to contract with Electro Purification (EP), a Houston-based private commercial water supplier, for one million gallons of water per day from the Cow Creek Formation of the Trinity Aquifer.

Many homeowners with domestic water wells complained their source may run dry do to EP water mining in an unregulated area of Hays County.

The EP well field is located just outside of the jurisdictions of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) and the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD). It’s located in Edwards Aquifer Authority territory, but that authority only regulates the Edwards Aquifer and not the Trinity below it.

EP is planning to pump 5.3 million gallons of water per day and pipe it east to Buda, Goforth Water Special Utility District and a private developer who proposed 2,200 homes just outside of Mountain City.

The firm seeks to use the HCPUA pipeline from Kyle to Buda to transport its one million daily gallons of Trinity Aquifer water to Buda.

Last October, HCPUA board members approved a resolution committing to work with Buda “to determine appropriate infrastructure capacity, ownership percentages and possible water quality issues in a timely manner so that Buda may continue forward with efforts to contract with Electro Purification.”

Buda would cover the additional sizing costs to the pipeline’s construction necessary to allow for both the agency’s water and Electro Purification’s water to be transported.

Moore said the agency is not seeking to build the Kyle-Buda stretch of their pipeline because of EP serving as an added water supply source to Buda. He said that pipeline is necessary, regardless of what happens between Buda and Electro Purification, to pipe Carrizo water to accommodate their growth.

The Kyle-Buda portion of the pipeline also would allow Kyle to sell its excess water to Buda. 

“We were as an agency looking at a water sharing plan where all the partners, including San Marcos and Canyon Regional, if they have excess water, there’s an opportunity for us to share the excess water amongst ourselves,” Kyle Assistant City Manager James Earp, who is a HCPUA board member, said at the meeting. 

The construction of the Kyle-Buda portion of the HCPUA pipeline also would satisfy a GCUWCD permit requirement that the agency begin construction of their conveyance system within three years. After the construction beginning, the timeline would be extended for a 30-year period.

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