Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project

Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project Construction Photos

Most people have heard about the Coastal Water Authority’s Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project. But few have seen it. Its size makes it impossible to see from the ground. It stretches from the Trinity River to the northeast corner of Lake Houston, where Luce Bayou enters the East Fork. The purpose of the project: to provide additional surface water supplies to end users that utilize water from Lake Houston, especially the new Northeast Water Purification Plant.

Surface Water Capacity to Manage Growth and Fight Subsidence

Studies have shown that Lake Houston and the new plant cannot meet future demand at their current capacity. Transfer of additional raw water supplies to Lake Houston will support future expansion of treatment capacity at the northeast plant and the mandatory conversion from groundwater to surface water to help reduce subsidence.

The City will eventually transport 500 million gallons per day from the Trinity river to Lake Houston through the pipelines and canals you see below.

Connecting Trinity and San Jacinto Watersheds

The Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer project includes the Capers Ridge Pump Station (CRPS) located on the Trinity River in Liberty County, 3 miles of Dual 96-inch Diameter Pipelines, and 23.5 miles of earthen Canal System.  The pipeline will extend west southwest approximately 3 miles along a geological ridge (Capers Ridge). The pipeline will then outfall into the sedimentation basin at the start of the canal. The canal will outfall into the lower reaches of Luce Bayou, which flows into the northeastern corner of Lake Houston.

Originally, engineers considered using a large part of Luce Bayou itself to transport the water and minimize construction costs. However, environmental concerns nixed that idea. Today, they use only the last few hundred yards of Luce Bayou. But the name stuck.

Construction Photos Taken December 3, 2019

The pictures below start at Lake Houston and go about half way to the Trinity River.

The last part of the canal outfalls into Luce Bayou and then Lake Houston in the background. Looking southwest.
A semicircle slows the water as it comes out of the canal. Note how sediment is already building up.
Looking west toward FM2100. Note the drainage swales on either side of the canal.
These “teeth” in the concrete outfall structure break up the water to reduce its erosive power.
From the Trinity to Lake Houston, the entire system is gravity driven. The water is pumped up at the Trinity and then flows downhill all the way to lake Houston. The slope is incredibly precise and minute: only .015%.
The route contains 22 inverted siphons below drainage features, roads, pipelines and 11 bridges.
These are not the smallest pipes, but they’re still big enough to swallow pickups. Even larger pipelines near the Trinity contain welded-steel piping with cement mortar lining and polyurethane coating.
Once past Huffman, the canals wind through farmland.
The color of the water is partly a reflection of the sky and partly due to the fact that it has gone through a sedimentation basin to remove sediment before reaching this point.
In several places, existing streams go OVER the IBTP.
The further east you go, the more finished the canals appear.
Another natural stream goes over the canal. The earth blocking the canal on either side of these inverted siphons will be removed before the system goes into service.
Three million cubic yards of soil were removed to create these canals. That’s enough to fill up the Astrodome almost twice.

For More Information About Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project

To see a list of specs and fuller discussion of the project, click here.

To see a technical discussion of inverted siphons, click here.

For a less technical discussion, click here. They’re not all THAT complicated. Hint: you have several inverted siphons in your home, usually under sinks.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/17/2019

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