BALLINGER – The Lake Fort Phantom Water Project is officially underway as the City of Ballinger was approved for a $3 million grant from the Texas Water Development Board.

BALLINGER – The Lake Fort Phantom Water Project is officially underway as the City of Ballinger was approved for a $3 million grant from the Texas Water Development Board.

City Manager Bryan Grimes said while he had been notified that the city had been approved earlier, the official word came via email on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

“Everything is coming together,” Grimes told the members of the Ballinger Noon Lions Club Thursday.

Last March, the city applied for a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase 1,250 acre feet of water from Lake Fort Phantom through the City of Clyde and for a 75-mile pipeline to transport the water to Ballinger. The city qualifies for 75 percent of the $30 million requested.   

Grimes said the TWDB grant will be for “planning, acquisition and design” and that if approved, the USDA grant will be used to buy the water rights from Lake Fort Phantom for approximately $5.5 million.

“The water purchase should be done by June,” Grimes said.

Once the Phantom Project is complete, Ballinger will have the ability to receive 1.2 million gallons of water per day from Lake Fort Phantom. Currently the city uses about 400,000 gallons of water per day.

Until then, the city will continue to purchase water from the Colorado River Municipal Water District based in Big Spring.

While the water rates in Ballinger were lowered in September of 2016, they remain high, due to the city having to purchase water from CRMWD.

Grimes said that once the project is complete and water is coming in from Lake Fort Phantom, residents can “expect to see water rates decrease.”

The current water rates are $40 for the first 3,000 gallons and $7.80 for every 1,000 gallons used thereafter.

Meanwhile, over the last six months, city crews have been busy installing 2,200 new water meters at residences and businesses throughout the city.

Grimes explained that the new meters are technologically advanced which allows the city and customers to see exactly what their usage is in real time.

“We are putting more information in your hands as water customers,” Grimes said.

Grimes said a platform is being installed that will allow water customers to look up their usage online and the information can help customers monitor their usage and can help show if a leak is occurring.

Customers will be able to track their own water usage, Grimes said.

Once the installation of the new technological platform is complete, customers will be able to receive email or text alerts weekly, monthly or “whenever there is a leak.”