ALTUS Altus City Council members have hired a Texas firm to seek additional water sources for the city.
Council members, by unanimous vote at their Tuesday meeting, approved a $109,500 contract with Freese and Nichols of Fort Worth to seek additional water sources. The contract also includes evaluation of water quality, quantity and yield of existing and potential water sources, assessment of groundwater/well fields, evaluation of infrastructure, performance of any needed environmental permitting and working with city personnel to conduct as much work in-house as possible.
Well field studied in Texas
One of the additional water sources being studied is the Round Timber Well Field just south of the Red River in Wilbarger County, Texas, that was developed in the 1960s but has not been in operation in recent years.
Currently dependent on Tom Steed Reservoir
The city is seeking additional water sources to reduce its dependence on water from Tom Steed Reservoir near Mountain Park in Kiowa County, which has been the city's primary water source since the lake was constructed in the 1970s. As a result of low water levels at the lake from the prolonged drought, the city is enforcing Stage 3 water use restrictions that limit residents to outdoor watering one day per week, prohibits the filling of swimming pools and requires car washes to close one day per week, among other mandates.
The City Council had previously rejected similar proposals for the feasibility study by Freese and Nichols because of higher cost estimates presented by the firm and a desire by some council members to negotiate a contract with a local engineering firm Fox, Drechsler & Brickley Inc., which constructed the Round Timber Well Field nearly 50 years ago.
Ron Jones, the city's senior water treatment plant operator, reported that residents have understood the city's water situation and have stepped to the plate to conserve usage.
"Our water usage is down some 20 percent this summer compared to last summer," he said.
Stage 4 restrictions'a possible option'
Jones said the city will continue Stage 3 restrictions for the foreseeable future. However a worsening of the water supply situation could result in the city upgrading to Stage 4 regulations which may include shutting off water to various portions of the city for a day on a rotating basis, if such action becomes necessary.
"This doesn't mean that it's going to be done, but it's considered a possible option," he said. "And we won't move to Stage 4 unless the mayor makes such a declaration."