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Brackish groundwater study gets pilot program

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 by Jessi Devenyns

Down at the Colorado River Delta lies Matagorda Bay. Predictably, this coastal land has a plentiful supply of salt water but lacks sources of fresh water. Recognizing the area’s need for sources of fresh water other than Lake Travis surface water, engineers recently determined that the brackish water in the Matagorda Bay area could serve as a new water supply. Surprisingly, the brackish water – a mix of salt and fresh water – has extremely low salt levels in the area. The Lower Colorado River Authority sets a goal for potable water to be below 15 parts per thousand, and the water in the Matagorda Bay is 1 to 3 parts per thousand. “It’s not what we would prefer to drink,” explained John Hofmann, the authority’s executive vice president of water, at the most recent meeting of the LCRA Board of Directors. However, he said, “The water quality is good. It’s almost like fresh water.” In order to provide the area with access to this water, the LCRA is proposing a pilot study where it would drill wells along the bay estuary to assess the feasibility of sourcing this water on a larger scale. The pilot project is estimated to cost between $3 million and $4 million. “Our critical path right now is to search for funding,” Hofmann said. LCRA is partnering with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to identify the optimal site for the pilot, which Phil Wilson, the general manager of LCRA, hopes will be a “creative way to utilize the resources there.”

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