The sources of drinking water, both tap water and bottled water, include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals.
Where Our Water Comes From
Brownsville gets its water from the Rio Grande. The United States, Mexico and farmers along the border also get their water from this river that in Mexico is dubbed "Rio Bravo," or Furious River. Water for Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley is stored behind Amistad Dam, in Del Rio, and Falcon Dam, in Zapata. When Brownsville needs water, Brownsville Public Utilities Board (BPUB) requests water to be released from the dams. It takes about seven days for the water to get to Brownsville.
Brownsville pumps its raw water from the Rio Grande and into a pair of water reservoirs, or huge craters in the earth filled to the rim with water, which can hold about 129 million gallons of water. The water is then pumped into Water Treatment Plant No. 1 and Water Treatment Plant No. 2 using a 36-inch water pipeline. The water is filtered and purified at the water treatment plants. Then, pumping stations and pipes then bring the purified water to our homes, apartments and businesses.
Raw water is also pumped into the area's resaca system, such as Resaca de la Guerra that meanders throughout the city. This water serves as habitat for an array of species of fish such as tilapia, alligator gar, and largemouth bass, as well as hundreds of species of birds and waterfowl. BPUB is currently working on a "Resaca Restoration Project" where all of the resacas will be dredged. The resacas will be able to capture excess rainwater from storms.
Where It Goes
Once used by the people of Brownsville, the water moves from our homes, offices and industrial buildings through miles and miles of pipes until it reaches either the Robindale Wastewater Treatment Plant or the South Wastewater Treatment Plant. At the plants, it passes through a complex system of screens, basins, filters and chlorination chambers, where impurities are removed.
The purified water is then discharged back into the Rio Grande or into San Martin Lake. This water is crucial for the life cycle of many fish and shrimp species of the Gulf of Mexico that use the low-salinity levels of the mouth of river for spawning purposes.