There has been some speculation and misinformation regarding the Ballinger’s water deal with Abilene. Gossip has run the gamut from one end to the other, even after the recent city council meeting. The deal has been in the works for the last handful of years and the first part of it will be voted on by city council at the next city council meeting. There is a special meeting set for Thursday, January 17th at 10 a.m. at city hall.
I sat down with city administrator Tommy Turney to get the facts of the water deal in hopes of clarifying the agreement for everyone who may not be up-to-date on it.
The way it is now
Currently the city of Ballinger purchases its water from Millersview/Doole and Abilene. Ballinger purchases 360 acre-feet per month from Millersview/Doole and 140 acre feet per month from Abilene. Our agreement is for 500 acre-feet per month from Millersview/Doole but as their water consumption increases due to growth (the area includes Wall, TX) our require amount is lessened.
Now, at the present time, we purchase the water from Abilene but it doesn’t come from Abilene, it comes from Lake Ivey just like the Millersview/Doole water does. Abilene, like Millersview/Doole has water from lake Ivey that they sell. The difference is that we presently pay Millersview/Doole $1.43 per 1,000 gallons and we pay Abilene .36 per 1,000 gallons. The reason that Ballinger pays so much less to Abilene is that Ballinger because of the new water deal.
Under the water deal with Abilene, the city of Ballinger will pay $3,000,000 for the design of a water line to go from the north Abilene water treatment plant to the south Abilene water treatment plant. $2,000,000 of the money is forgiven via the Texas Water Board. $1,000,000 will be from a bond (see photo). This is only for the design of the pipeline between the two water treatment plants in Abilene and does not include construction costs. This will allow the north plant to send water to the south plant.
As mentioned, Ballinger receives water from Lake Ivey or, in an emergency, from Ballinger City Lake. Abilene receives water from 3 sources; Possum Kingdom, Hubbard Creek and Fort Phantom.
There is an existing line from Abilene to Lake Ivey with water towers in Ovalo and Talpa. Branching off of that is the line to Ballinger. With the waterline between the two Abilene plants, water can be pumped from the aforementioned water sources to Abilene and then to Ballinger. This obviously gives Ballinger a much needed peace-of-mind when the next drought will inevitably strike. Instead of just having Lake Ivey as our source, we’ll have 3 more sources, and all at 36 cents per 1,000 gallons.
The December statement from the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD) showed that in that month alone, Ballinger used 15,302,000 gallons of water at the current rate of $1.43 per 1,000 gallons. That water was purchased by Ballinger from Millersview/Doole. The way the billing works is that the annual contract minimum is 358,436,100 gallons of water. That is divided by 12 and broken down into monthly payments. That comes to $42,713 per month (358,436,100/12/1000*1.43).
As Ballinger purchases more water from Abilene at the 36 cents per 1,000 gallons and less from Millersview/Doole at $1.43 per 1,000 gallons, the savings are obvious.
The time required to design the waterline from Abilene’s north water treatment plant to its south water treatment plant will take about 3 years. Once that is complete construction can begin, but it isn’t likely to begin until at least 5 years and might be closer to 10 years according to Turney. The process is time-consuming but it will pay off in the long run with ensuring that Ballinger has water for decades to come and save the city money.
Turney said that he likes the deal that the council members and mayor have put so much work into, “It’s a really good deal. We just need to explain the deal to everyone.”