Editor's note: This is the final report of a multipart series on the City of Graham's pursuit of a viable effluent water re-use project.
The city of Graham is making its way toward an effluent water re-use project, and most city officials say that this is the perfect time to do so. The city has just gone into phase 2 water restrictions, and despite some merciful rainfall in the last few weeks, lake levels are still dropping.
Alan Philips, who is a representative of Jacob & Martin, a consulting engineering firm, said that now is the time to act, before dwindling water resources start resembling those of Wichita Falls or Nocona.
“Some of the reasons why a city would want to utilize re-use water, the first thing that comes to mind is that you want to conserve your water supply,” Philips said. “Overall lake levels for the state as of October of this year based on data from the Texas Water Development Board were at 59.4 percent. Closer to home, the TWDB listed Lake Graham at 55.9 percent.”
That equates to roughly 25,000 acre feet of water in Lake Graham. To put that into perspective, the city of Graham uses about 3,100 acre feet of water per year. When you add evaporation to that equation at 8,300 acre feet per year, then the city is left with 45 percent of Lake Graham remaining by October 2014. That is, if the city does nothing to preserve its water supply.
One of the Texas cities that has recently voted to issue in a cutting edge effluent water project is Brownwood. According to Graham City Manager Larry Fields, Brownwood's project is one of the boldest and most pioneering on the scene today.
David Harris is the director of utilities for the city of Brownwood. His city started looking at effluent projects in the fall of 2011, and by November of that year, Brownwood started working on the design work for their project. By December 2012, Brownwood received approval to construct all of the machinery needed for their multi-million dollar water re-use project.
Brownwood had initially started looking into using brackish ground water as a viable alternative water source, but after conducting several studies, they found that using brackish would cost about three times the amount they are currently spending on effluent water.
Read the entire story in this weekend's edition of the Graham Leader.