As population of the Houston region, an economic powerhouse and home to the nation’s second-busiest port, continues to expand, the recently completed Regional Groundwater Update Project helps to ensure a sustainable water supply for more than 5.7-million area residents, nearly a quarter of the State’s population.
The complex project provided sound scientific data to support appropriate regulatory decisions by three separate regulatory agencies, and developed more accurate population projections and new groundwater modeling methods that are being adopted and applied in the Region H water planning process through a cooperative effort with the Texas Water Development Board. This type of bottom-up approach is the first of its kind in Texas, and the large population and economic importance of the region increases the significance of this approach.
Regulatory decisions resulting from study findings necessitated a comprehensive stakeholder involvement process that assured the success of the project while meeting the desired schedule and financial goals of the regulated community.
- First-time use of a “bottom-up” approach to regional water planning
- First-time development of highly detailed, accurate and sophisticated population projections for a large population center
- Development of a land subsidence prediction model that is the first of its kind in the world
- A comprehensive stakeholder coordination process that resulted in a study without controversy, completed six months ahead of schedule
- Completed within a compressed schedule by six months and under budget, due to effective stakeholder involvement process
- Enables Houston region to grow and prosper economically by protecting residents and businesses from increased flooding, and by protecting key industrial centers such as the Port of Houston
- Eased construction challenges, reduced costs and allows providers to delay increases in water rates, saving rate-payers millions of dollars
- Created first-of-its-kind methodologies for creating regional population and demand projections
- Developed techniques that will continue to be used by in the industry to create more robust and accurate regional water planning processes
Figure 1: Region H regional water planning benefits from a robust stakeholder involvement process which supports a “bottom-up” flow of information made possible by continuous coordination with TWDB to foster their cooperation and buy-in.
Figure 2: Population and water demand projections were developed at the resolution of the Groundwater Model grid cells using advanced statistical modeling and GIS database programming: there are 7,000 one-square-mile grid cells over the five-county study area. The legend shows the population density in each grid cell.
Figure 3: Historically, subsidence has been predicted at 26 discrete points as indicated by the gray polygons; RGUP advanced subsidence prediction modeling by calibrating the SUBS package to measured subsidence and providing the ability to predict subsidence at the center of every one of the thousands of square mile grids in the study area, providing more accurate results for varying regulatory scenarios.
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