What is the West Texas Water Partnership?
The West Texas Water Partnership (WTWP) is a unique collaborative effort by the cities of Abilene, Midland and San Angelo to address long-term water needs. The WTWP will explore opportunities to maximize local supplies, continue to support conservation and develop new long-term water supplies for the region.
What prompted this partnership?
We, the cities, were motivated to work together by a desire to address a common challenge and to foster economic growth in West Texas. We were already partners in other projects, such as O.H. Ivie Reservoir, along with other regional cities and towns - all of which will stand to benefit from the efforts of this partnership. We have been diligently working to meet the short-term water needs of our communities, but realize the long-term water supply challenges we each face are best addressed through a regional, collaborative and sustainable approach that will allow for cost-sharing, increased water use efficiency and minimization of environmental impacts. By sharing financial costs, resources, experience and knowledge, Abilene, Midland and San Angelo can more effectively develop water resources for the entire region.
Isn’t the state supposed to provide water? I thought there was a state water plan.
There is a State Water Plan for Texas, and the actions proposed by the WTWP are consistent with it. While the state does assist entities with financial loans or other aid for water project development, the responsibility remains with local entities such as the partnership to identify and secure their future water supplies.
What about the CRMWD? Is it not its mission to address these very issues in West Texas?
We are in conversations with the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD) to determine whether it has additional water capacity for the cities to use. The WTWP is committed to exploring all possible avenues to develop a long-term water management strategy and solution for the region, which includes the CRMWD.
How will the WTWP pay for any water projects?
Each city in the WTWP will retain local control in deciding how to generate the funding necessary for new water projects. By pooling financial resources and developing projects for the cities’ cumulative population base.
Do citizens get to vote on whether their city will participate in a water project?
The WTWP is dedicated to transparency and public input. Before selecting any water supply project, the WTWP will present proposals to the cities’ governing bodies and to the public, and will listen to public input.
How will the WTWP decide whether to move forward with a project?
The WTWP will evaluate several criteria when deciding on any water project, including affordability, environmental impact and the impact on the area of the state or community from which the water is sourced. The WTWP will strive to develop projects that provide a net benefit to the region where the water supply will be developed.
Where will the WTWP look for water?
The WTWP will look for both groundwater and surface water supplies. We are researching many possibilities to find sources of water and develop a plan and projects that benefit everyone.
Shouldn’t we be focusing more on water conservation and recycling than getting new, expensive water sources?
The WTWP emphatically endorses water conservation – the most cost-effective water supply is almost always existing water sources that are conserved. All of the cities have active and robust conservation programs, and each city either has or is developing a water reuse program. Combining conservation measures and developing new water sources to address future water needs is the best way to ensure an adequate, long-term water supply for our three cities. However, conservation alone will not create the water supply needed to serve the partnership’s future water needs.
Will the WTWP help rural communities with their water issues?
The WTWP was formed around a need to develop new supplies for the region. The WTWP is not intended to be limited to Abilene, Midland and San Angelo, and it welcomes potential partnerships with other communities – big or small – that have future water deficits.
When will the WTWP make a decision on a water project?
The WTWP is committed to pursuing the best, most cost-effective, long-term water supplies for the region, and we are carefully evaluating options, funding issues and potential impacts of developing a variety of water projects. We are not close to making final project decisions, but when a final project is chosen, it will be thoroughly discussed with the cities’ governing bodies and with the public.
Will the WTWP affect or be used for water projects currently on tap, such as Abilene’s Cedar Ridge Reservoir?
Development and permitting of the Cedar Ridge Reservoir is well underway, and represents an important future supply for Abilene and the surrounding region. It is possible the development of Cedar Ridge could allow the WTWP to share water supplies, both existing and future, and to more efficiently distribute water across the region. Other water supply projects – including the Hickory Aquifer and T-Bar well fields – also represent important water supply projects for the cities of San Angelo and Midland, respectively. In Midland, the T-Bar wellfield came online in June 2012 and can provide up to 10 million gallons per day for the City. The City of San Angelo developed the Hickory Aquifer in a $120 million effort to provide approximately 9 million gallons per day.
Who will eventually decide whether a proposed water supply project requires a permit? The State?
The permitting specifics are determined by the water source. For example, if a selected project involves groundwater as the source, we may need a permit from a local groundwater conservation district. Pipelines and other facilities may require permitting by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Also, surface water projects will require permitting by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
West Texas has experienced a drought for some time – why hasn’t this happened sooner?
The cities of the WTWP have historically worked to meet their immediate water supply needs individually, while also planning for their long-term supplies. The WTWP was borne out of that planning process, and the WTWP is working to meet the cities’ common goals.
What if the effort doesn’t work? Do you have a “Plan B?"
The WTWP was formed as a collaborative effort to find the right solutions to meet the needs of our region. The WTWP is not tied to pursuit of any particular project. Thus, if we determine that a project will not meet all of our needs, the WTWP will continue to vet other alternatives.