By: Kimberly Wright, Highlands Division Manager

In the early 1940’s, the Federal Works Agency built an extensive canal system and pumping station in east Harris County.  Water was delivered to Humble Oil and Refining’s Baytown refinery, as well as to other important industries to support the efforts of World War II.  On June 4, 1943, to assist in this effort, the SJRA board of directors passed a resolution assigning to the Federal Works Agency all of the Authority’s water rights for the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter.  In return, the Authority received $1.00 per year, and all water rights were to be returned at the end of the designated period.  After the war, the City of Houston, the Federal Works Agency, and SJRA reached an agreement, and on April 25, 1945, the Authority purchased the canal on the east side of the San Jacinto River, and the City of Houston purchased the canal on the west side.

Today, the Highlands Division maintains and operates a pump station on Lake Houston, a canal system running from Lake Houston to a 500-acre reservoir in the Highlands, and additional canals running from the reservoir east and south to two of the largest refineries.  In addition to the large industrial customers, a number of municipal customers purchase raw water from the canal.  With over 25 miles of canal to maintain, 40-plus road crossings, a large pump station, and industrial customers that require uninterrupted water supply, our Highlands operations run 24/7, 365 days a year.

For more information on the Highlands Division, please visit

Excerpt from a July, 2017 Dock Line article titled History and Current Improvements.