BALLINGER – The Lake Fort Phantom Water Project is moving along, thanks to grant approval from the Texas Water Development Board.

BALLINGER – The Lake Fort Phantom Water Project is moving along, thanks to grant approval from the Texas Water Development Board.

A total of $2 million of the TWDB grant is grant money and will not have to be repaid, City Manager Bryan Grimes said. About $1.2 million will have to be repaid under the terms of the grant.

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.

"We are right on target," Grimes said.

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 that city officials will travel to the USDA offices in Abilene later this month to get a feel for the progress of the other grant application.

"We want to get that finalized by Aug. 15," 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.

Grimes said dirt will not be turning on the project for another two or three years.