History and Current Improvements

By: Kimberly Wright, Highlands Division Manager

A Little Bit of History…

In the early 1940’s, the Federal Works Agency built an extensive canal system and pumping station in east Harris County. Water was delivered to Humble Oil and Refining’s Baytown refinery, as well as to other important industries to support the efforts of World War II. On June 4, 1943, to assist in this effort, the SJRA board of directors passed a resolution assigning to the Federal Works Agency all of the Authorities water rights for the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter. In return, the Authority received $1.00 per year, and all water rights were to be returned at the end of the designated period. After the war, the City of Houston, the Federal Works Agency, and SJRA reached an agreement, and on April 25, 1945, the Authority purchased the canal on the east side of the San Jacinto River, and the City of Houston purchased the canal on the west side.

Division Responsibilities…

Today, the Highlands Division maintains and operates a pump station on Lake Houston, a canal system running from Lake Houston to a 500-acre reservoir in the Highlands, and additional canals running from the reservoir east to Chevron Chemical and south to Exxon’s Baytown refinery. In addition to the large industrial customers, a number of municipal customers purchase raw water from the canal. With over 25 miles of canal to maintain, 40-plus road crossings, a large pump station, and industrial customers that require uninterrupted water supply, our Highlands operations run 24/7, 365 days a year.

Current Happenings…

As a result of newly revised customer contracts and additional contract modifications anticipated in the future, the total water supply required by all customers using the Highlands Division South Canal is expected to increase from a maximum delivery rate of approximately 65 million gallons per day (MGD) to almost 80 MGD. To prepare for the required increase in delivery of daily water supply, improvements to the South Canal are necessary to both rehabilitate the aging infrastructure for many sections of this canal and to increase the hydraulic capacity to ensure that the system is capable of reliably delivering the contracted demand quantities without interruption.

Improvements identified that will ensure the reliability and performance of the South Canal to meet these increased demands include: replacement of Siphon Nos. 28 and 31; refurbishment and repairs for the CWA South Canal Transfer Pump Station; removal of Siphon No. 30; removal of excessive silt build-up in the culverts located at I-10 and Decker Drive; and general levee rehabilitation throughout the South Canal including raising and reshaping of the levees at select locations.

All construction work for the South Canal Improvements project is scheduled to be completed prior to June 1, 2018.

For more information on the Highlands Division, please visit www.sjra.net/highlands.