Houston suburb halts new development due to water demand

Magnolia won’t accept new construction projects for at least four months

Magnolia City Hall (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty, Google Maps)
Magnolia City Hall (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty, Google Maps)

Water supply woes have led a Houston suburb to halt new construction.

The City Council in Magnolia, a Montgomery County town near the Woodlands, ordered a four-month moratorium on any new commercial or residential developments in the city and its extra-territorial jurisdiction, the Houston Business Journal reported. The decision came after an analysis found the city’s water system doesn’t have the capacity to serve more projects.

The moratorium doesn’t apply to projects already under construction or those that won’t impact the water system. Developers can apply for waivers to build and pay for their own water infrastructure.

The city has contracted with R&B Construction for a new well on the east side of the city, set to be completed by August, and another well will go online this year also.

Drought has impacted the region in the past year. Magnolia adopted drought contingency plans that limit the amount of water that can be used. The city has been under stage 2 water restrictions since Oct. 13.

The town of Dripping Springs, in Hays County, also put a moratorium on new construction recently. The policy was lifted in November after being in effect for almost a year.

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Adam Perdue, a research economist at Texas A&M University’s Texas Real Estate Research Center, said the 120-day moratorium won’t deeply impact the surrounding area.

“Not all development up there on the northwest side is reliant on Magnolia’s water system,” Perdue told the outlet. “So for the bigger, grand scheme of things for northwest Greater Houston, it’s going to have an impact, but it’s not going to be super significant.”

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— Victoria Pruitt