UTA engineers working to bring more water to North Texas



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Posted on September 4, 2012 at 1:25 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 4 at 1:34 AM

ARLINGTON — The North Texas population has exploded over the past decade. That puts the spotlight on the need for more water.

A massive pipeline is now in the works to move hundreds of millions of gallons from Lake Palestine, 85 miles southeast of Dallas.

It's not something we often think about; when you turn on the tap, the water comes rushing out.

But there's really only so much to go around.

And that is the precursor to a monumental undertaking — a pipeline up to six feet in diameter capable of moving more than 350 million gallons of water every day.

"In an engineer's career, you only get maybe one or two opportunities to do something like this," said Professor A. Abolmaali of the University of Texas at Arlington. "This is big for the university."

Professors at the school are helping designers figure out a way to build the pipeline with a rare technique — using the state's existing soil — as opposed to bringing in crushed rock to support the pipe.

"This translates to a lot of cost-saving — not only on this project, but future projects as well," Albolmaali said.

Engineers estimate it could save Dallas and Tarrant counties half a billion dollars in a project expected to cost $2.3 billion.

Right now, the teams at UT Arlington are about halfway done with their research, using computer drawings, soil samples, and working with an actual test pipe embedded in the ground.

What they learn here will impact us for years to come.

"It will keep our supply reliable; we won't see the need to ration water," said David Marshall of the Tarrant Regional Water District.

He emphasizes that while a new pipeline won't mean an end to water restrictions, it will increase the supply enough to serve 1.5 million more people in North Texas.

E-mail mmoore@wfaa.com