Northeast Water Purification Plant Expansion

Northeast Water Purification Plant Expansion Now in Last Phase

The massive $1.77 billion expansion of the 120-acre Northeast Water Purification Plant near Summerwood is now well into its last phase. The last update to the expansion website is dated May 23, 2023 and estimates completion in 2025. Contractors have made considerable progress since May. This satellite image is dated 6/14/23. Note the area on the far right at the eastern side of the plant. That area contains most of the new construction activity.

Landsat Photo in Google Earth from June 2023

Aerial Photos Taken 8/12/23

Compare the photos below of the Northeast Water Purification Plant taken just two months later. They were all taken on 8/12/23.

Looking SW from NE Corner of plant.
Close up looking south.
Wider shot looking N from SE corner of plant. White circle will contain a giant water storage tank.
Looking W at entire plant. Note NE corner of Beltway 8 beyond plant and Atasocita Landfill in upper right.
Looking ENE toward Lake Houston

5X Capacity Increase Will Help Reduce Subsidence

The Northeast Water Purification Plant is designed to help ensure Houston’s water supply while reducing groundwater usage. Pumping groundwater at a rate greater than nature replaces it can cause irreversible subsidence. Subsidence has been linked to increased risk of flooding and structural damage.

The physical site above contains three major sections.

  • The original plant which can treat 80 million gallons per day (foreground)
  • First expansion phase (middle)
  • Second expansion phase (far end).

In May, Phase One was nearing completion and expected to be ready soon. Phase Two is the major focus of efforts now.

Together the first and second expansions will produce 320 million gallons per day, bringing the total treatment capacity to 400 million gallons.

Plant Will Handle Wide Range of Turbidity

Because Lake Houston is so shallow, turbidity increases rapidly during rainfall events. Accordingly, the partners have incorporated both wet- and dry-weather technologies into the treatment plant, so operators can switch nimbly as needed.

Innovative treatment strategies like chlorine dioxide, ozonation and biological filtration have been proven at other Texas facilities using similar source waters. Given the broad range of raw water qualities, they will help the City preserve high-quality finished water and deliver more of it.

Majority of Water Used by Industry

Houston Public Works Drinking Water Operations (DWO) currently serves about 2.2 million people. And Harris County’s population alone is projected to expand to 5.5 million people by 2050. But serving all those extra people is only half the battle.

Industrial and manufacturing operations use a MAJORITY of the City’s water.

Venus Price, P.E., Interim Senior Assistant Director, DWO

Many Sources Help Meet Demand, Protect from Drought

To meet demand DWO has three water treatment plants and 49 groundwater production facilities. They span four counties and 600 square miles, making Houston’s system one of the most complex in the nation.

And to feed those plants, the City of Houston owns a 70% share of Lake Livingston, a 70% share of Lake Conroe, 100% of Lake Houston and a 70% share of the future Allen’s Creek Reservoir on the Brazos River.

Lake Livingston supplies water to Lake Houston and the Northeast Water Purification Plant through the Luce Bayou Inter-Basin Transfer Project.

The variety of sources help sustain a growing population through droughts, such as the one we are in now. Corporations evaluate such factors when choosing where to expand. For more information about Houston’s water supply, check this informative history, written by Susan Smyer in 2008.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/22/2023

2184 Days since Hurricane Harvey