Killeen , tx — With the hot summer months fast approaching, water is going to once again be a valuable resource to have available, especially here in Central Texas. But, one local city says with a rapidly growing population placing more demand on their available supply, they need to expand their water treatment capacity to avoid rationing or conservation in the future.
"Hopefully, it will never affect the people because we're going to solve the problem before there is any effect," said Mayor Dan Corbin of Killeen.
A massive population growth is expected in the coming years, so city officials are planning ahead to ensure Killeen has enough treated water to meet demands. Currently, the Water Control and Improvement District Number One supplies the city's water, drawing from Lake Belton. The water is then brought into the city through three water pipes, which also service Killeen, Copperas Cove, and Fort Hood. But, in the future, that may not be enough.
"We may need to, you know, get more water treatment capacity. And, that's likely to be on Lake Stillhouse," said Corbin.
For now, Mayor Corbin says the city's water supply is just fine, but if they don't start planning for the expected population growth, they could face conservation or even rationing water.
"Worst case scenario, we're going to have to go on some sort of conservation plan. But, I really don't foresee that happening," said Corbin.
Corbin says Texas regulations require a city to start planning for additional water treatment capacity when the city reaches 85 percent usage for three straight days. Before, Killeen has never come close to using the 32 million gallons of treated water allotted per day, Corbin says. In fact, the city, he says, barely comes close to reaching half of that allocation most days. However, this summer, he says that may happen.
"We may do in August when it's really hot, a lot of people watering lawns," said Corbin.
In 2007, the city's water supplier, the Water Control and Improvement District Number One, bought acreage on Lake Stillhouse for the benefit of Killeen and neighboring cities, such as Belton, Nolanville, Copperas Cove, and other entities.
"Now we're looking at the possibility of putting a plant in there," said Corbin.
Corbin says about 30 million dollars and four years of planning will afford the city more water in the long run. In the meantime, residents shouldn't expect an increase in water rates.
“We’re going to make a decision that’s in the past interest of our rate payers,” said Corbin.
Corbin also says the city is looking at ways to be more eco-friendly with their current water usage. For example, they are looking into reusing sewage treatment water, which is now dumped into a creek, to water the golf course. This way, watering the grass won’t use the cities raw water allocation or continue to weigh in on the demand for treated water. This project would cost about one million dollars, and Corbin says it would pay for itself in eight to ten years.
Additionally, Corbin explains the city is looking at making improvements to the south treatment plant, which could cost up to 12 million dollars, to provide additional water treatment capacity. And, the plant would alleviate grease dumped in the water when restaurants are disposing of it.