Yes. This project will cost at least $350 million and take fifteen to twenty years to build due to significant requirements from state and local agencies.
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In January 2018, the City completed a $35 million Indirect Potable Reuse project which takes all of our wastewater effluents to Lake Arrowhead for storage and ultimate use. This project will recycle up to 16 million gallons per day.
Yes. The City implemented a comprehensive cloud seeding project in the spring of 2014 for $300,000. City officials and representatives from several surrounding counties met with state meteorologist and cloud seeding expert, George Bomar, who has worked in this field for over 39 years. Bomar indicated that cloud seeding could increase the potential rainfall production from a suitable thunderstorm by 10-15%. The City sought joint participation from other entities that could benefit from a cloud seeding operation to offset a portion of the expense.
The City cut expenses where feasible, but the cuts do not come close to making up the deficit. For example, non-fixed costs (electricity, treatment chemicals, etc.) are cut as the lower volume of water is treated. Basically, every $ 1 loss in water sales due to lower consumption reduces discretionary expenditures by only $.25. Fixed costs (labor, debt service on bonds, required maintenance) remain roughly the same, regardless of the water used.
Water treatment facilities must be run 24/7/365 days a year with minimum staffing required by the state, no matter how much water is sold. The City is also required to pay the annual debt costs for the bonds that were issued for the numerous projects such as the micro filtration and reverse osmosis plant. Additionally, the City still has to fix broken water lines and make other emergency repairs to the system to keep it functional.
Water rates had to be increased in order to meet unfunded state and federal mandates, supply and material price increases, fuel price increases, electricity and gas hikes.
In 2013, City staff modified the rate structure so that more fixed costs are front-loaded or reflected in the base water charge everyone pays, even before the first gallon of water is sold. This is commonly referred to as a "readiness to serve charge." The obvious advantage of doing this is that it flattens the "peaks and valleys" as we sell dramatically more or less water yearly, making our revenue stream more predictable.
Rest assured; this problem is not just the Wichita Falls phenomenon. It is happening everywhere. There are numerous public water systems across the State of Texas that are in some form of drought restrictions, as we are triggering drought restrictions here in Wichita Falls.
The average residential water bill in Wichita Falls (water only, not trash, stormwater fee, etc.) is currently between$28 $46 per month. This maintains three lakes that supply our water, several pump stations and pipelines to move lake water to the City's two treatment plants, the actual treatment of the water to state and federal standards, the maintenance of hundreds of miles of distribution system pipeline and for the meter reading and billing to 35,000 customers. According to JD Power and Associates, the average monthly cell phone bill for an individual (in 2012) was $71. They further reported that their total cell phone bill could easily top $200/month for a family of four with smartphones. According to Consumer Reports, the average monthly Cable TV bill in 2014 was more than $120. Natural gas and electricity prices also tend to be higher than a monthly water bill. Compared to these other standard fees, water is one of the most economical products we use.
The bill you receive indicates the previous and current meter readings. The difference between these numbers yields the consumption or Units. Each Unit equals 748 gallons.
A CCF is 100 cubic feet of water or 748 gallons, also called a Unit.
The City began taking action to shore up the water supply during the last two droughts (95/00 and 11/15). The City constructed the Microfiltration/Reverse Osmosis plant, which enabled us to bring Lake Kemp online as a water source, providing an additional 10 million gallons of water per day. Without this supply, the impacts of the last drought would have been much more dramatic. This City also began pursuing both the Reuse Projects in April of 2012, with lake levels just slightly under 60% capacity or Stage 1 of the drought plan. The City did not wait too long to begin the search for additional supplies and will continue to search for additional water sources, such as the building of Lake Ringgold.
Why didn't the City dredge Lake Wichita when the Corps of Engineers or highway contractors offered? Neither the Corps of Engineers nor a highway contractor has offered to dredge Lake Wichita for free. The City does not use the lake as a water source.
Lake Wichita is also only 1/60th the size of Lake Arrowhead. If used as a water source under peakdemand conditions, the lake would be empty in 36 days. Additionally, the water in Lake Wichita comes from Lake Kemp, so the water would be too salty to use unless it were run through the RO (Reverse Osmosis) Plant.
Dredging is extremely expensive. Current estimates range from $75 to $90 million. There are cheaper options available to increase our water supply such as water recycling or a reuse program.
Dredging operations in the State of Texas are permitted through the Corps of Engineers. Getting the permits required to begin dredging would take six to nine months. The dredged material is required to be tested for contaminants. If contaminants are found, the material must be disposed of at a permitted site approved by the Corps. The lake is not used as a water source, and dredging for recreational purposes is not financially feasible at this time.
Castaway Cove Water Park uses less water than a standard hotel and less than most car washes. The annual water consumption at the park is less than 3/100 of one percent of the city's total water use. Like a home pool, the water is recirculated and filtered. The pools are kept full during the winter months to reduce water use. As with any pool or body of water, evaporation occurs, especially during hot or windy days. To comply with City restrictions, the park has turned off various sprays to reduce water loss due to evaporation and irrigation (watering landscaping).
The Water Resources Commission is a sub-committee of the City Council. The commission is responsible for reviewing all pertinent data and making appropriate recommendations for City Council action.
The decrease in lake levels is the result of natural cycle of drought in the
region of Texas. As temperatures stay warmer, longer into the year, and a lack of precipitation
during the same time, the lakes receive less runoff while the existing water is evaporated into the
atmosphere. Reducing how much we take out of the lake will help extend its levels and get us to a cooler/wetter time of the cycle.
A drought plan is a document mandated by the State of Texas for each Public Water Supply to have on file. It directs the actions that a Public Water Supply takes to try and conserve as much water as possible in the event of a natural drought or man-made emergency. The City's drought plan has been enacted during the last two droughts and has proven effective. These plans are updated every five years and submitted to the State of Texas for approval. The City updated the latest plan in 2018. This plan included several innovations to make it more effective (taking into account lessons that were learned from the drought of 2011-1015.