News Feature | September 26, 2017

Houston Breaks Ground On World's Largest Water Treatment Plant

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

Houston.Reg.jpeg

Well before Hurricane Harvey brought torrential winds and stormwater into Houston, the city had a reputation for ambitious construction and sprawling development.

In a project that demonstrates this city’s spirit, Houston will soon be home to the world’s largest water purification facility, which broke ground earlier this month.

“The Northeast Water Purification Plant Expansion is currently the largest water treatment project on the planet — not just in the State of Texas, not just in the United States, but on the planet,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Can you imagine this plant just a couple of weeks ago was submerged under water, yet we are still here today?”

The city invested nearly $1.5 billion in the project, which includes the building of a high service pump station, ground storage tanks, and treatment facilities. It is expected to increase treated water capacity in the area to 320 MGD.

“The project includes the design and construction of a new raw water facility, which includes an advanced three-level intake, pumping, and conveyance to withdraw water from Lake Houston and deliver it through two new 108” pipelines to the treatment facilities located about 1.5 miles from Lake Houston,” per Construction Equipment. “The undertaking involves moving water three miles over a ridge and into a 23-mile canal that will feed Lake Houston, then pumped through 17 miles of pipe large enough to drive a car through.”

The ambitious project is expected to meet a growing need for clean drinking water in the area.

“The Greater Houston Water Department says that by 2025, surface water — rather than groundwater — must supply at least 60 percent of the water used by the area,” Construction Equipment reported. “That percentage will rise to 80 percent by 2035. The reason is that with the rapid expansion of the Houston area, groundwater being pumped in Harris, Galveston, and Fort Bend counties has reached a point where the ground has sunk several feet, causing flooding. Some wells in the area have hit salty water and other have hit water that smells like sulfur.”

The project is expected to be complete by 2024.

To read more about drinking water treatment projects visit Water Online’s Asset Management Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Houston," Thomas Hawko © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/