The Midland Reporter-Telegram reported:
City staff briefed City Council Tuesday on a plan to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility to create effluent good enough to sell back to oil companies for hydraulic fracturing purposes. Even though a study and a request for proposals, both pending council approval, are needed before the renovations begin, early cost estimates for the project are at $50 million.
During the council briefing, staff said there are two ways to fund the project. The first option is to have a private company fund the capital cost of the plant’s upgrades and then make a contract with the company to buy the treated water at a reduced rate. The second option is for the city to fund the upgrades and then have contracts with water buyers at a set rate for a specific amount of time.
At the next meeting, council members will vote on a study that will determine the cost to upgrade the treatment plant and then subsequently authorize a request for proposals for interested partners.
Contrast this with San Angelo City Council's recent action approving staff negotiate with Alan Plummer on a new reclaimed water study.
The city currently gives 100% of its treated water for irrigation purposes, which happened to benefit then Water Chief Will Wilde's cotton hobby farm. The $1 million pipeline delivers water to the irrigation canal right at Wilde's place. It takes a year's notice for the city to do anything different with its reclaimed water. City Council also discussed oilfield companies pulling up to water hydrants and taking City water. A number of council members expressed concerns about water theft and the city not being paid properly for water taken from hydrants.
The City considered two methods for treating Hickory Aquifer water, ion exchange and reverse osmosis. It will be interesting to see if the choice of ion exchange under Will Wilde causes greater expenditures in repurposing treated water.
West Texas water is a story with many twists and turns.