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The City of Corpus Christi Water Department serves nearly 500,000 citizens of Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend.

The Department supplies water for municipal and industrial use in a seven-county service area covering 140 square miles. Major raw water customers include Alice, Beeville, Mathis, San Patricio Municipal Water District, Celanese and Flint Hills Resources. Treated water customers include Nueces County Water Improvement District No. 4 (Port Aransas), San Patricio Municipal Water District, South Texas Water Authority and the Violet Water Supply District. Water is drawn from the Lake Corpus Christi and Choke Canyon Reservoir System, both within the Nueces River Basin, and from Lake Texana via the Mary Rhodes Pipeline.

Lake Corpus Christi, which stores 242,241 acre-feet of water, was dedicated April 26, 1958 with the construction of Wesley Seale Dam. The Lower Nueces River Water Supply District built and owned the reservoir until the bonds were paid off in 1986 and the City of Corpus Christi assumed ownership. 

Choke Canyon Reservoir stores 695,271 acre-feet of water. The Bureau of Reclamation financed, designed and built the reservoir. The reservoir was dedicated on June 8, 1982. The City operates and maintains the facility.

The 101-mile long Mary Rhodes Pipeline draws water through a 64-inch pipeline from Lake Texana near Edna to supplement the water supply drawn from the City's two reservoirs. The pipeline, named for the former mayor who fought to build it, came online in September 1998. In 1993, Corpus Christi entered into a contract with the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority to purchase 41,840 acre-feet of water per year. Approximately 50% of the water delivered to homes in Corpus Christi comes from Lake Texana.

Other department functions include operation of the O.N. Stevens Water Treatment Plant. The City diverts raw water from the Nueces River and Lake Texana into the plant to be treated and turned into drinking water. Water is drawn from the Nueces River where it passes through screens to remove the large floating objects such as leaves, branches, fish, etc. The water is pumped from the Nueces River to the treatment plant to the junction box where the water is blended with Lake Texana water. From there, the water is piped to a receiving unit where coagulants are added to the water to "destabilize" colloidal suspensions. The coagulation process works to remove any colloidal suspended particles present in the raw water. Disinfectant chemicals are also injected into the water to kill bacteria and viruses. The water is then piped into settling basins where the coagulation process continues until it is completed. After that, water enters the filtration system for the final removal of particles. Additional disinfectant chemicals are added to the water before the water is stored in clear wells. Large master pumps help to distribute water into the city where water is stored in storage tanks.

Approximately 28 billion gallons of water are treated each year. Water infrastructure has a rated capacity of 167 million gallons per day, which is well above the peak summer demand of as much as 110 million gallons per day. The department operates five pumping stations, four elevated storage tanks and maintains 1,600 miles of pipeline. The Water Department repairs and replaces water infrastructure and also maintains a water testing laboratory.

The Water Department operates in full compliance with all state and federal requirements. Water professionals work hard to ensure measures are taken to provide customers with the best quality water possible. The city meets or exceeds requirements set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Water Department has a long-standing commitment to promote water conservation in the community. Its public education and communication functions promote community awareness. The department provides free water-related educational materials to local school districts.

Through the re-engineering process, the Water Department is promoting effective, efficient and economical ways to operate. To that end, the department is committed to a streamlined operation.

To meet the demand of a growing community, the city has taken steps to assure a future water supply. In 1999, the city purchased senior water rights to 35,000 acre-feet of water per year in the Colorado River from the Garwood Irrigation Company. This water will be transported to Corpus Christi via a pipeline that will soon be constructed.  Upon its completion, it will transfer water from the Colorado River to the Mary Rhodes Pipeline at Lake Texana.

The City also is exploring the feasibility of desalination - the process of turning seawater into drinking water. A utilization of a desalination plant is possible once the cost falls below the cost of acquiring additional fresh water resources.

No matter what the future might bring, the Water Department is committed to providing professional and technical services that yield the highest quality drinking water for Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend.