Does Texas Have a Water Issue?

By February 19, 2024 No Comments
San Antonio Texas Cityscape
In 2023, San Antonio, Texas experienced its hottest month on record, with triple-digit temperatures for 23 consecutive days and only 2 inches of rainfall.

Aging infrastructure, overextraction of groundwater, and drought are contributing to water scarcity in Texas

As the population in Texas continues to grow, so will its demand for water. The trouble is that the water supply isn’t projected to increase in line with demand. According to the State Water Plan released by the Texas Water Development Board in 2022, water demand is projected to increase by 9% by 2070 and the supply is expected to decrease by 18%. If no additional water sources are added to the supply, it is anticipated that approximately 25% of the state’s population will experience municipal water shortages within the next 50 years.


Texas’ water-related problems are multifaceted, reflecting a complex interplay of factors that extend to major cities such as Houston. The state grapples with extreme weather events and escalating drought frequency, issues compounded by aging infrastructure and extensive overpumping of groundwater to cater to the burgeoning demand.


Water Shortages

As the state experiences population growth, along with rapid urbanization, more people and more industries are putting a strain on water resources. A series of extreme climate events have compounded matters, exposing flaws in Texas’ water system, and leading to water shortages and droughts that continue to keep the supply low. Water scarcity puts pressure on the entire water supply system and can lead to quality issues that can result in boil-water notices. In 2022, there were 3,143 boil-water notices in Texas, a marked increase over the 1,993 notices reported in 2018. Boil-water notices may be issued for various reasons, such as contamination, water main breaks, or other issues that could compromise the quality of the water.


Broken Infrastructure

Texas’ water distribution network consists of more than 165,000 miles of water pipes, and on average, small- to medium-sized systems were installed in 1966, more than 50 years ago. This aging infrastructure is broken, jeopardizing the water quality and supply, and causing significant water losses due to leaks. In 2021, an estimated 130 billion gallons of water was lost in the state due to infrastructure failures, 30 billion gallons of which were attributed to broken pipes and water leaks. In 2021, the average water loss per connection across the state of Texas was 54.68 gallons per day.


Aging infrastructure must be repaired and maintained, or replaced entirely. However, this can be expensive, especially for small municipal water providers that often don’t have the financial resources or the manpower required to maintain a system and keep it functioning efficiently. As plans proceed for infrastructure updating, it’s worth examining decentralized water treatment systems as an alternative. Because they bring service to where it’s needed, they do not require long distribution or collection pipelines and pumps. And for temporary installations or in areas without the capital resources needed to build new infrastructure, leasing treatment plants can provide necessary treatment.


Overextraction of Groundwater

With the state’s population booming and its climate ever more susceptible to drought, underground aquifers are increasingly vulnerable to overpumping to meet the growing demand for water for both municipal and agricultural applications. In some cases, this has led to groundwater depletion in some regions of Texas. This not only affects the long-term availability of groundwater but can also diminish surface water supplies when the water bodies are fed by springs.


Overpumping can lower the water table, and as it subsides, deeper wells are needed. Pumping from a greater depth requires more energy, which results in increased costs that can make using a well unviable in extreme cases.


Overextraction of groundwater can cause land subsidence due to the loss of support below ground. As the land sinks, the soil becomes denser and more compact, with a lessened ability to hold water. This can lead to an increase in surface flooding and a permanent reduction in aquifer capacity.


There are also water quality concerns associated with overpumping. Research has shown that excessive pumping can unlock arsenic in soil, increasing arsenic levels in irrigation and drinking water. Excessive pumping in coastal areas can also cause saltwater intrusion into aquifers that can contaminate the water supply.



In April and May of 2022, the Rio Grande went dry in miles of Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Texas is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including changes in precipitation patterns and increased temperatures. Texas is prone to periods of drought, and the state has experienced severe drought events in the past. Droughts can impact water availability for agricultural, industrial, and municipal uses, exacerbating existing water challenges.


Central Texas is in the bull’s-eye of the current drought. San Antonio experienced its hottest month on record in August 2023, with soaring triple-digit temperatures for 23 consecutive days and only 2 inches of rainfall. During the same month, the San Antonio Water System experienced more than 1,000 water main breaks and leaks, the highest number ever recorded in a single month. The problem can be self-reinforcing. Higher demand for water during hot, dry drought conditions can lead to overextraction of groundwater, which can cause subsidence, which contributes to water pipe breaks.


As Texas grapples with mounting water challenges, AUC Group stands at the forefront, providing innovative solutions to bolster the state’s water resilience. Based in Houston, Texas, our expertise aligns with the key issues noted above, offering tangible remedies:


  • Aging infrastructure solutions: AUC’s decentralized water treatment plants present a transformative approach when replacing aging infrastructure. Eliminating reliance on extensive distribution and collection pipelines and pumps ensures efficient service for growing communities.
  • Overextraction mitigation: AUC’s localized treatment plants reduce dependency on vulnerable aquifers. Our solutions contribute to sustainable groundwater management, safeguarding against depletion and associated environmental ramifications.
  • Drought resilience: Addressing Texas’ vulnerability to drought, AUC champions decentralized plants that reduce reliance on centralized systems. And, by recycling water through wastewater treatment facilities, we introduce a sustainable alternative during periods of water scarcity.
  • Financial viability with financing options: AUC understands the financial constraints faced by municipalities. Our lease plant program offers a strategic financing avenue, making water infrastructure accessible without burdening local budgets. We also offer build-own-operate and build-own-operate-transfer financing arrangements that can help get major water infrastructure projects done.


Contact us to explore how our water and wastewater treatment innovations, coupled with our flexible lease plant program, can contribute to a resilient and sustainable water future for Texas.

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