From the Sidelines – Water Sources

Water: Shouldn’t we pay more attention to it?  We can’t live without it!

Double Oak, Copper Canyon and Bartonville residents are members of the Bartonville Water Supply Corporation (BWSC). In addition to their own wells, the water supply corporation buys treated surface water from the Upper Trinity Water District (UTRWD).

Upper Trinity buys raw surface water from Dallas.  Much of that comes from Lake Lewisville.  In my opinion, surface water is the source of choice because it is sustainable via rainfall and doesn’t draw down the underground aquifers.  But it currently costs us more than ground water. 

UTRWD is a wholesaler of treated water.  In order to receive water from them, retail water companies and towns that use retail water must sign up for a subscription of a certain level of water usage. 

That subscription makes sense because water treatment plants and distribution infrastructure are expensive.  If they can’t wholesale what they have produced how can they possibly pay for the facilities?  Still, it means that if BWSC can’t use all they’ve signed up for they must pay at that minimum level regardless and pass that cost on to us, their subscribers.  That same quandary exists for all UTRWD customers.

It seems logical to say, “Well, if we really can’t use that much why can’t we reduce our subscription?”  But hold on, there; the pipes are in the ground, the treatment plants are built.  How can that infrastructure be paid for if the demand decreases?  Not only that, UTRWD has always built more than the demand requires.  Detractors claim they are overbuilt.  Undersubscribed is another way of saying the same thing but it explains why UTRWD customers can’t simply reduce their subscriptions today.

Still, population projections indicate that UTRWD will need an increased supply of raw water.  Our ‘official’ projection comes from our Region C water plan which predicts the need for more water as early as 2023.  That may seem like a long time but UTRWD plans to build an alternate source of water, Lake Ralph Hall, which may not be completed until 2025 provided that the current permitting process completes in time to build and fill the lake.

Building a lake is not cheap!  I have seen estimates of raw water from the projected lake costing $1.58 per thousand gallons versus current costs from Dallas at $0.46 for the same amount of water.  That’s three times the cost!  Will we actually have the customers to support that prediction in 2025?  Is additional water available from Dallas to hold off the requirement for the new lake?  Is there a more accurate prediction of need that shows the requirement being delayed?

I’d like to get answers to those questions and time is of the essence.  If we need Lake Ralph Hall by 2023 to 2025 we need to stay the course and build the lake and face up to the increased cost.  But if the need is not until 2034 to 2048 as some projections show, or if additional water is available from Dallas at a reduced cost wouldn’t it be a ‘no-brainer’ to check that out?  That is certainly going to be my plan.

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