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What is the North Fort Bend Water Authority (NFBWA)?
The North Fort Bend Water Authority (NFBWA), along with the Fort Bend Subsidence District, was created by the State of Texas to reduce subsidence and provide a reliable, enduring source of potable water. Subsidence refers to the gradual sinking of the ground over time. It can lead to costly flooding and infrastructure damage.
The past extensive use of well water has been a primary cause of serious subsidence issues in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. In at least one case (Baytown’s Brownwood subdivision), subsidence resulted in the complete abandonment of the area. The once beautiful neighborhood is now fully underwater and has been repurposed as the Baytown Nature Center.
Subsidence occurs when well water is drawn from the ground faster than it is replenished, causing the soil to physically compact. Soil compaction cannot be fully reversed, so prevention is vital. Replacing well water with surface water greatly reduces the rate of subsidence in our area.
Established by the State of Texas, the NFBWA is not a “for profit” business. The NFBWA covers approximately 141 square miles in Fort Bend County. This includes the City of Fulshear and more than eighty MUDs, including Big Oaks MUD. By State mandate, Big Oaks MUD purchases fresh water from the NFBWA.
The NFBWA provides Big Oaks MUD cleaned, sanitary surface water from lakes in place of the well water that has previously been the main source of supply for much of Fort Bend County. Through the NFBWA, Big Oaks MUD is the only source of potable water for its residents. There are no alternative sources of potable water available within the District.
The NFBWA does not have the authority to levy taxes, so it must use fees to construct and operate the extensive infrastructure needed to acquire and deliver surface water to areas within the NFBWA’s boundaries. It gets surface water in partnership with the Central Harris County Regional Water Authority, the City of Houston, the Coastal Water Authority, the North Harris County Regional Water Authority, and the West Harris County Regional Water Authority.
The NFBWA charges Big Oaks MUD a single amount each month for the total gallons of water sent to the MUD. The NFBWA does not meter nor charge the residents individually.
Monthly water bills from Big Oaks MUD include a line item titled “NFBWA Fee”. This fee pays for water used as measured by individual water meters and is used to pay the single large bill from the NFBWA.
In any water distribution system the size and age of Big Oaks MUD, a small amount of water is always being lost. This means that the water provided each month by the NFBWA is always larger than the metered amounts the MUD shows being used within the District.
Big Oaks MUD regularly undertakes efforts to limit the amount of water lost by our distribution network. This involves repairs as needed plus bit by bit upgrades to the distribution network.
To account for metered usage plus the lost water, the MUD’s Rate Order adds 10% to each end user’s billed amount. This covers the single large monthly amount charged by the NFBWA. The base amount charged per gallon is set by the NFBWA, not by Big Oaks MUD. Big Oaks MUD does not profit from nor subsidize the NFBWA fee.
The North Fort Bend Water Authority has an excellent website. You may access their website at https://www.nfbwa.com. NFBWA meetings are open to the public. See their website for meeting details and much other useful information.