State rep pens new water storage bill

Buda is reigniting its Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) efforts at the legislative level by supporting a bill meant to ease restrictions on the technology.

State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) last week filed House Bill (HB) 1044, which was her first bill authored in the Texas House of Representatives. The bill is similar to a measure that failed during the 85th Texas Legislative session. 

In 2017, House Bill 3333, authored by former State Rep. Jason Isaac, died before it could be heard on the Texas House floor prior to Sine Die. 

“This bill gives Buda the tools and resources to reduce their reliance on groundwater,” Zwiener said. “Aquifer storage and recovery is an innovative technology that will allow Buda to store water in times of plenty so that they can be more resilient in times of drought.” 

According to Buda officials, the bill will allow the city to manage its water supply in times of drought and heavy water usage. ASR is a technology that was first implemented in Kerrville and San Antonio.

First tested in the 1990s, the technology allows the pumping of surface or groundwater to be stored in an aquifer for later use. During times of drawdown or drought, the stored water can be used to help meet water needs. 

“Currently, the law is written to where anytime you drill through the Edwards Aquifer, the only thing that can pass through that well is Edwards water,” said Blake Neffendorf, Buda’s water resource coordinator. “Additionally, we can only use Edwards water to store in the Trinity Aquifer. This bill would give us more flexibility to store surface water.”

Neffendorf said Buda has a contract with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) to receive 1.5 million gallons per day of water. During the winter, the city’s water usage is around a third of its allocated amount. Under the bill, the excess surface water collected would be stored and utilized at a later date. 

Despite ASRs use in other cities, experts are still working to understand the movement of water in an aquifer, which could potentially affect stored water. If the water stored in an aquifer flows to another location, it could disrupt efforts to store and pump in a particular location. 

“That’s the million-dollar question: how much movement is there in the water once it’s stored,” Neffendorf said. “Luckily, where we are located, the Trinity Aquifer is not heavily utilized. it’s also very deep and expensive to get to. For our purposes, it wouldn’t have an effect on the movement of the water.” 

If passed, the HB 1044 would allow the city to move forward with its ASR efforts. This stored water will then be utilized by the city’s water and wastewater customers, which amounts to a majority of its citizenry. 

“We are looking forward to getting the project started and we appreciate Representative Zwiener for sponsoring and filing the bill,” Neffendorf said. “Hopefully we can move a big piece of legislation through for the benefit of the citizens.”

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