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New Braunfels may be next Texas city to store water surplus underground

Aquifer Storage and Recovery facility to be built underneath airport

NEW BRAUNFELS – Cities across Texas are racing to manage water as the natural resource becomes scarcer. New Braunfels is one of the cities planning for the future. 

"We tend to get flooded or we tend to get flash droughts,” said Douglas Draegar, executive director of operations for New Braunfels Utilities.

Those extremes mean managing water these days is paramount. New Braunfels may soon be joining Kerrville and San Antonio in adding what is called "Aquifer Storage and Recovery" to its water portfolio. 

"We'll pump it in during times of plenty, and then we'll be able to utilize it in times of drought,” Draeger said.

The San Antonio Water System has been running an ASR facility successfully for many years now. An ASR facility holds water in an underground bank. Should a drought occur, the surplus of water can act as a rainy day fund. The water is also stored without loss from evaporation.   

According to NBU, there are periods in which New Braunfels does not utilize all the water that it is allocated.    

"Our ability to be able to maximize the rights that we have, and be able to store that water, saves money for everyone,” Draeger said.

An interesting twist is the potential location. It was decided that the New Braunfels Municipal Airport would be an ideal setting for this project, not only because the city already owns this piece of property, but because of what lies beneath the airport. It sits on top of a brackish portion of the Edwards Aquifer that lies some 500 to 1,000 feet below the surface. 

"We believe this is a great place to be able to store the water. It’s brackish water, and because it’s saline, it doesn’t move. So, it’ll act like a tank," Draeger said.

That tank will allow for 7,000 acre feet of water to be on standby. 

Testing still needs be to be completed, but the project, according to NBU, has the blessing of the New Braunfels City Council. NBU estimated the project could be up and running as soon as 2019. 


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