The city councils of San Marcos, Buda and Kyle voted Tuesday to approve the issuance of millions of dollars in bonds dedicated to the first phase of a project that will bring an additional 13 million gallons of water per day to the region and be an additional source of water to residents for years to come.

The Alliance Regional Water Authority—formerly the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency— has been working on this project for 10 years. It will cost a total of $213.4 million when complete in 2023.

Following the cities' approval, the ARWA can now issue bonds on their behalf, ARWA Executive Director Graham Moore said.

Project history
In 2015 Buda was involved in a contentious battle for groundwater in western Hays County after a private company from Houston was found to be planning to pump water from an unregulated portion of the Trinity Aquifer. The city of Buda was one of the company’s first customers, but when the project fell through, the city was left without a water source to meet demand that was anticipated to exceed supply by 2017. The cities of Kyle and San Marcos agreed to share their excess water with Buda to bridge the gap until the long-term Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer water becomes available in 2023.

The Texas Water Development Board in July approved a commitment to provide $213 million for the project through the State Water Implementation Fund of Texas, or SWIFT.

The SWIFT loans will be repaid through the water rates of the Alliance members, including the cities of San Marcos, Kyle and Buda as well as the Canyon Regional Water Authority.

Costs to the cities, CRWA
Here's the breakdown of expenses incurred by the four participating entities for the upcoming phase of the project, known as Phase 1B:

  • San Marcos: $11.45 million

  • Buda: $1.63 million

  • Kyle: $9 million

  • CRWA $9.87 million

According to the ARWA, this phase will pay for:

  • Carrizo wells

  • Raw water collection lines

  • Water treatment plant

  • Finished water transmission mains

  • Booster pump stations

  • Delivery to customers tanks

  • Administrative building

In 2019 and 2021, the cities and CRWA are expected to contribute millions more dollars to the project. The cities' contributions to the projects are based on the percentage of use, according to Moore.

Previous to this phase of funding, the cities' and CRWA's contributions to the project were as follows:

  • San Marcos: $6.98 million

  • Buda: $1.16 million

  • Kyle: $4.62 million

  • CRWA: $5.55 million

The water authority expects to begin delivering water to the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio by 2023 by pumping from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Caldwell County. Design and easement acquisition for the pipeline to transmit the water will begin in the next six months, Moore said.

On Oct. 25, the ARWA board will approve the resolutions signed by the three councils.

Additional reporting by Brett Thorne.