The history of water service in the State of Texas dates back to 1878, when Houston’s City Council decided to build a water works facility. In part, this decision was triggered by the necessity to cope with devastating fires, which occurred on a regular basis (Smyer, p 2). At that moment, the entire consumption of water was 3.000.000 gallons per day (Smyer, p 2). This fact indicates that at that time, water needs of people, living in Texas were relatively small.
It stands to reason that water needs of this region have drastically increased since that time. At the given moment, the population of Texas numbers more than 21 million people. Moreover, it is one of the biggest industrial centers of the US. According to the most recent estimations, the daily usage of water constitutes approximately 18 million gallons, while the annual usage 657 billion gallons (Texas Conservative Coalition, p 2).
It is often argued that Texas is one of those US regions where the rate of water consumption far exceeds the replenishment rate. In addition to that, many scholars insist that local government should work out strategies, which would contribute to the reduction of water consumption. The thing is that many underground waters are going to be depleted, if the level of consumption does not drop. This is perhaps the key drawback of water distribution system in the State of Texas.
At present, the local government tries to make a more efficient use of underground waters; in particular, we can mention such an aquifer as Brazos River Alluvium. The surface waters include such rivers and bayous as The Brazos and Trinity Rivers (Window on State Government, unpaged). We can say that water distribution system in Texas has to rely more on surface waters but at this moment, this source of water supply remains relatively unexplored.
Water supply treatment, which aims to remove all possible contaminants, consists of such stages as pre-chlorination, aeration, desalination. Each of these processes is supposed to ensure that the water is suitable for drinking. These procedures are aimed at removing bacteria, viruses, various fungi and so forth. These purification techniques are instrumental for maintaining the highest quality of water.
The water distribution system in Texas provides several options for pressurizing water:
- By means of pumps (there is a whole network of pumping stations in Texas);
- By using the force of gravity feed, in other words by means of water towers;
- Through pressure vessels.
This infrastructure is owned by both public and private organizations.
It should also be pointed out that according to the standards, adopted by local government, water pipes must meet the following requirements:
- First, all water lines have to be rubber gasket pipes only (The State of Texas, unpaged);
- Secondly each of the pipes has to be furnished with a rubber ring at each joint (The State of Texas, unpaged).
Moreover, the pipes must be of a specific diameter, which would not exceed 12 inches. These specifications are necessary for maintaining optimal pressure. Besides, water pipes must be made of ductile iron, polyvinyl chloride, or copper. This choice can be explained by the fact that these materials are durable, and more importantly, they do not contaminate water.
Water supply system is an inseparable part of fire protection; especially we are speaking about fire hydrants or fire plugs, which provide firefighters with instantaneous access to water suppliers. In Texas, the firefighters use various types of dry barrel hydrants. This means that water is not preserved directly in the hydrant, but in the piping.
This decision of the state government can be accounted by the fact that the climate in this region significantly varies and in some areas, the temperature drops below zero. Provided that water is stored directly in the hydrant, it may freeze in winter.
Consequently, hydrant, itself, will be of no use. According to the safety standards, established in the state of Texas, fire hydrant testing has be conducted twice a year. These tests aim to measure conveyance capacity and pressure. Such tests are an integral part of fire protection precautions.
In some rural areas, where there are no hydrants, local firefighters mostly rely on water towers. One should take it into consideration that the shortage of fire hydrants cannot always be compensated by water towers because such means of water delivery is not quite suitable for the needs of firemen. On the whole, this is one of the key issues that local government ought to address.
Therefore, we can come to the conclusion that in terms of infrastructure, water distribution system, used by the State of Texas, is quite advanced, especially if we are referring to urban areas. Yet, rural areas often suffer from the shortage of water supply. As it has been mentioned before, this region is one of the largest consumers of water across the United States and it is strongly dependent on underground water sources, which can be exhausted in the near future.
Rister M., Lacewell. R. & Strurdivant A. Economic and Conservation Evaluation of Capital Renovation Projects: Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 2 (San Juan) – Relining Lateral A – Preliminary. Texas Water Resources Institute. 2003. Web.
Smyer Susan. History of the City of Houston’s Drinking Water Operations. 2008. Web.
Texas Conservative Coalition. “Open Markets Will Meet Texas’ Water Needs”. TCCRI. 2007. Web.
The Official Website of the State of Texas. “Specifications of PCV Water Pipes” 2010. Web.
Window on State Government. “Texan in Focus: Infrastructure” 2010. Web.