Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority (GCA) was created by an act of the Texas Legislature in 1969 to clean up Galveston Bay. The Bay was experiencing severe degradation of its water quality due to industrial development and population growth. Our creation was visionary by the legislature as was prior to the 1972 Clean Water Act.
Originally intended as a wide-ranging regulatory agency, similar to a local version of the federal regulatory authorities, it was also empowered to acquire or build and operate wastewater treatment plants and other waste management facilities. The GCA Board of Directors was also granted the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds for local governments and for industry if those bonds were going to be used to construct waste management operations.
Signing of contract for Washburn Tunnel 1973
Gulf Coast Authority decided to take the active role of issuing bonds to help industry and others improve their own waste management and taking on the direct handling of waste through the relatively new concept of “regional waste management.” Regional management simply means building a single facility to handle wastewater or solid waste from several sources to one location. Previous practice was for each entity producing waste to build and operate its own waste management facility. GCA initially pursued regional municipal and industrial wastewater treatment services to meet our mission to improve the water quality in Galveston Bay. Now with 50 years of experience in operating large regional facilities for both municipal and industrial waste, GCA has demonstrated that regional management does work and works well.
Aerial Photo of the Bayport Facility, 1970
A single large plant results in economy of scale, in a concentration of expertise in a very specialized technical staff, in operators who understand that their chief responsibility is making sure that the treatment system is working, in supporting a technically superior laboratory, in reliable waste treatment and in efficient treatment costs. It also allows our customers to focus on their core business while we take care of treating their wastewater and manage the associated permitting. To this day, GCA remains a major proponent of regional solutions for waste management problems.
June 14, 2013, marked a significant milestone for the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority—and for the state of Texas. On that day, Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation that expands GCA’s role beyond municipal and industrial wastewater treatment and solid waste operations to enable the Authority to build, own and operate other types of water systems such as brackish water treatment, desalination and effluent reuse projects in an effort to help provide solutions to potable water shortages across the state.
On June 15, 2017, another milestone occurred. The Texas Legislature approved changing our name from Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority to Gulf Coast Authority to better reflect the suite of services we provide. This formalizes a convention and GCA logo that have been used for several years.
In addition to our reliable water, wastewater and solid waste management activities, GCA supports Texas economic development and environmental protection by providing financing services. Since the 1970s, we have issued over $3 billion in private activity bonds toward this end. We also issue industrial development bonds for small manufacturers in Galveston, Harris and Chambers counties.
Gulf Coast Authority