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GBRA to get federal money for water study

June 27, 2014 at 1:27 a.m.


The Bureau of Reclamation is providing up to $450,000 to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority to help it explore how to expand the region's water supply.

Overall, the federal agency will provide $1.29 million to nine projects across Texas, said the bureau's acting commissioner, Lowell Pimley, on Friday.

GBRA officials and their partners - the General Land Office and the University of Texas at San Antonio - last May named a team, led by MWH Global, to conduct a feasibility assessment study for developing ocean water desalination as a regional water supply, including the option of co-located power generation facilities.

The GBRA's project is called the "Integrated Water and Power Project: A Drought-Proof Water Supply for Texas."

"Planning and preparation are essential for communities looking to meet their growing water needs," Pimley said. "This funding will help communities gather critical information in assessing whether these water recycling and reuse projects can meet their future water needs."

Bill West, GBRA general manager, said: "This reclamation funding could not have come at a better time. We are taking a regional approach to solving our water issues, and we have been moving this very important study along so that relevant questions will be addressed when the Texas Water Development Board begins evaluating projects to support with funding."

The feasibility study takes into consideration many factors, such as plant location, most effective and efficient water conveyance system, fuel source, safe brine disposal and other environmental issues, said James L. Murphy, GBRA executive manager for water resources and utility operations.

"This funding will be instrumental in helping us get the remaining issues completed," Murphy said. Total cost of the study is expected to be about $2 million.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the GBRA and other projects in its group will get up to $450,000, or up to $150,000 per year, and studies must be completed within 36 months.

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