After legislation vital to the construction of New Braunfels Utilities latest water storage project passed through both the state senate and house late last month, NBU is ready to move forward on building an Aquifer Storage and Recovery program ni the brackish Edwards Aquifer.
On Wednesday, May 22, the Texas Legislature unanimously passed Texas Senate Bill 520. Rep. John Kuempel sponsors this bipartisan bill, authored by Sen. Donna Campbell and Sen. Judith Zaffirini. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, who has until June 16 to sign or veto the bill. If Abbott takes no action, the bill will automatically become law on Sept. 1.
“If you’re not familiar with (ASRs), it can be kind of confusing about what is it exactly we’re trying to do,” said Ian Taylor, CEO of NBU.
To understand and ASR program, one must understand how water rights work, Taylor said.
“We have a certain amount of water rights but during a drought or drought stages, the amount of water available to us is curtailed, so we don’t have that full permitted amount,” Taylor said. “You have to pay for that water whether you use it or not.”
What an ASR does is allow a utility to take water that’s been paid for during times of plenty and store it in an underground formation, Taylor said.
“It stays there, it’s kind of like a bank account, so you can withdraw that water during dry periods,” Taylor said.
The formation NBU plans to store water in is called the Brackish Edwards Aquifer, which normally holds water with more salt in it than freshwater, is different than the freshwater Edwards Aquifer, Taylor said.
“The Edwards Aquifer Authority Act applies to all freshwater and brackish, so when that act was written in 1993, it said you can only inject Edward’s water into the Edward’s,” Taylor said. “But we’re planning to put water in the Brackish Edwards, and the water we plan to put in there is our treated drinking water, which is a blend of Trinity water, surface water, and Edward’s water.”
NBU had to pursue a law change to change the Edward’s Aquifer Authority Act to be able to put this mixed water in, Taylor said.
The ASR project is officially in stage 3B, which is the construction phase of the first demonstration well, and three monitoring wells, said COO of NBU Ryan Kelso.
“So we’ve got a project kick-off meeting this next week, pre construction meeting and the notice to proceed for construction will happen at the end of next week, so we’re moving right along,” Kelso said.
NBU will have the underground facilities set by November 1, Kelso said.
“(That’s) the borehole will be drilled by the drilling rig and the casing,” Kelso said. “Then we’ll complete the surface facilities, the pumps and the piping network up on top probably in the February or March timeframe in 2020.”