TWA was created to identify, evaluate, and ultimately develop a sustainable and cost effective water supply solution to meet the region’s growing demands. It is clear that existing water supplies in central Texas have been pushed to the limit and new solutions are needed.
As the project gains momentum, there is increasing speculation regarding TWA – what it is, why it’s located in Gonzales County, and what will it do with the water.
TWA is a Texas corporation, wholly owned by SJW Corp (“SJW”). SJW, through its other wholly owned subsidiaries, provides water service to communities in California and Texas. Its flagship water utility, San Jose Water Company, provides water service to over 1 million people in the San Jose, California metropolitan area using three different but integrated sources of supply – imported water (similar to TWA proposes), ground water, and local surface water supplies.
San Jose Water Company has provided continuous, sustainable, and high quality water service since 1866 predating the incorporation of the City of San Jose). SJW’s Texas utility, Canyon Lake Water Service Company (CLWSC), provides water service to over 20,000 people in the Texas Hill Country west of New Braunfels. CLWSC obtains its water supply from a combination of Canyon Lake Water (purchased from GBRA) and groundwater from the Trinity aquifer. In both Texas and California, providing a safe, reliable, sustainable water supply is not only a matter of public health and safety, but also vital to the quality of life and economic vitality of the communities we serve.
For over 140 years, SJW has worked collaboratively with the regional public water agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater supply solutions. As the results and our reputation indicate, we have been responsible and effective stewards of groundwater supplies. We take great pride and care in developing sustainable groundwater supplies. Additionally, we take very seriously the natural resources entrusted to us provide water service to our customers. Our business is very long term in nature. Accordingly, we recognize that our mutual best interests are served by developing long-term, sustainable, and responsible water supply solutions. As we have demonstrated for over 140 years, SJW is a responsible steward of the environment and all our natural resources. We are committed to continuing this legacy in our relationship with the people in Gonzales County.
In Texas, with surface water allocations in Canyon Lake and downstream allocations in the Guadalupe River basin near their maximum, and with marginal or maximized groundwater supplies in the Trinity and Edwards aquifers, respectively, it is important that CLWSC and other local and regional community water systems identify new water supply alternatives. This is an important part of our responsibility and required by the state and local governments where we serve.
As we all already know, the state of Texas is a great place to live and work. Faced with one of the worst economic downturns our country has seen since the Great Depression, Texas has weathered this storm and turmoil better than most, if not all. But the secret, if you will, is out: many families and businesses are running to Texas. This is great news for our state: it will bring more jobs, more prosperity, more optimism, and more opportunity to our towns, cities, and communities. But to meet the current, let alone the future, demands this kind of growth and prosperity will bring requires that the utilities (most importantly water) are there to support it. Without it, the state Comptroller, Susan Combs, reports in her February, 2009 report, Liquid Assets: the State of Texas’ Water Resources, residents in our region face losses of $664 million in income and 10,200 full- and part-time jobs in the near term, and as much as $5.5 billion in income and about 100,000 jobs by 2060. In addition, state and local governments could lose $32 million in annual tax revenue on the short term and approximately $335 million by 2060. The Texas Water Development Board’s 2011 South Central Texas Regional Water Plan (which includes Gonzales, Caldwell, Hays, Guadalupe, and Comal counties, among others) estimates that population in our region will grow 2 to 3 times over current levels during the next 50 years. Over this same period, although per capita water use is expected to continue to decline through better conservation practices, regional demand is estimated to grow by more than 200,000 acre-feet (an acre-foot of water is equal to 326,000 gallons, or enough water to typically provide sufficient water for 2 households for one year). Demand in the aforementioned 5-county area alone is anticipated to grow by more than 90,000 acre-feet. It is imperative that water utility and regional water management agency professionals identify and develop reliable, sustainable, and responsible water supplies.
As responsible and professional water utility company, TWA and its affiliates are actively working to develop a 15,000 acre-foot water supply utilizing water from the Carrizo aquifer. TWA is actively working closely with the District and other regional utilities, including the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (which has also applied with the District to develop a 10,000 acre-foot project and collectively represents the communities of San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, and utility members of the Canyon Regional Water Authority), the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, and the Gonzales County Water Supply Corporation, to ensure a right-sized, cost effective water supply solution is used to meet the demands within our 5-county area. TWA and the utilities with which we will collaborate are committed to developing a project that will provide a water supply for decades to come. No one is more committed to ensuring that the aquifer is not over-developed or over-used than TWA and the utilities and communities that will need to rely on this new supply for years to come. TWA will continue to work closely with the District to monitor groundwater levels, re-calibrate the hydrogeologic models used to predict aquifer levels, and manage the use of this resource to make certain that this regional Carrizo supply will be available for use by TWA customers and other public, private, or individual interests.
It is our belief that there is a vast quantity of water stored in the Carrizo aquifer under Gonzales County, and that it can be utilized in the quantities requested without depleting the water supply under the property of anyone in Gonzales County. We base our belief on studies by the State of Texas as well as our own assessments. The district in Gonzales County has the final say on water production. It has rules in place that will reduce the use of water under the applied for permits if experience proves our belief to be in error.
In addition to our commitments and responsibilities related to the development of this project, TWA has already invested and will continue to invest significantly in the local community. For almost two years, TWA has worked closely with a large number of landowners in northeastern Gonzales County, a coalition that collectively represents over 150 landowners. In addition to our recognition of the value of the landowner’s water rights and the annual income this recognition will provide to over 40,000 acres of land, TWA is preparing to invest over $140 million in the necessary infrastructure to develop this water project that, collectively, will contribute to local revenues generated through the water leases and the future property taxes on the new infrastructure. Beyond these tangible financial aspects, this project will bring new job opportunities during construction and operation of the project.
TWA recognizes several concerns remain regarding the development of the Carrizo and the how it should be managed. Local and state groundwater regulations will continue to evolve and we will continue to work closely with the relevant public agencies as they continue to balance the interests and concerns of all, with the need to responsibly develop, permit, and monitor groundwater development. The Texas Water Development Board’s groundwater management efforts indicate continuing, substantial, and science-backed progress on how to best develop water supply projects.
TWA and SJW will continue to dedicate significant resources towards our ongoing collaboration with State and local groundwater agencies, water industry professionals, and local citizen in support of the development of sustainable, responsible, and cost effective water supply solutions for the region and the communities we intend to serve.