Sunday, April 01, 2012

San Angelo City Council: April Fool's?

San Angelo City Council saved nearly $500,000 on health insurance by making employees and retirees utilize a single health care provider, San Angelo Community Medical Center and their affiliated physicians.  This move came after Council charged City Manager Harold Dominguez with finding operational savings that could be shifted to the City's capital budget. 

City Council will re-hear a proposal to spend $500,000 plus $35,000-$50,000 in annual maintenance fees on a Concho River fountain feature.  Councilman Paul Alexander sees revenue potential from the fountain.  Let's hope it works out better than selling naming rights to city facilities or the tournament beer concession at city softball fields.

Meanwhile, city parks and recreational areas at Lake Nasworthy are at risk for sale, privatization and public restriction. 

There also were many comments in support of city officials exploring potential public/private partnerships for future development on Lake Nasworthy, especially in visible areas such as Mary Lee Park

Council members already showed their annoyance at citizens walking a public street, Gun Club Road next to Lake Nasworthy.  Is the fountain a diversion for citizens no longer able to swim and walk for free around Lake Nasworthy?

Another Paul Alexander idea will be discussed on Tuesday.  It's pumping water from the South Pool of Twin Buttes.  Last summer Alexander suggested shifting water from the South Pool to the North Pool.  He said it would reduce the surface area for evaporation by four times. 

I find this hard to believe based on my knowledge of the bottom topography in the two pools.  The South Pool is like a bowl, the North Pool's bottom is much more varied.   I expect pumping South Pool water into the North would increase, not decrease the surface area of the water, and result in greater evaporation. 

Recall Paul Alexander ludicrously suggested adding a boat ramp on the South side of the North Pool, which has a very low grade. Staff waited a meeting to tell Alexander his idea was impractical to anyone who knew boat ramps needed a high grade for maximum usability, at least for a lake on the edge of a desert.

City workers and retirees already knew where they stood with this Council.  What might they think of health insurance savings funding a capital project the size of the river fountain?  The bright side could have a maintenance man coming out of retirement to keep the fountain running.  That would fit with Mayor New's vision of City early retirees returning to the workforce for an affordable health insurance benefit.

As for the City's $3.6 million economic incentive to MedHab, a rehabilitation device maker, MedHab President Johnny Ross indicated their product launch would be pushed back to Fall.  Council acted to legitimize Mayor New's equity investment in MedHab, such that the company could receive the proposed incentive without further machinations and Mayor New wouldn't have to dump his stake.  This item is not on the agenda and City leaders have been hush on MedHab since early January.

Council meets Tuesday, April 3rd.  Will an April Fool's feeling carry into the day?  Maybe so.


Paul Alexander said...

I don't see the fountain or Mary E. Lee Park on the agenda for 4/3/12. There is way too much confusion about how the 4b 1/2 cent sales tax funds must be spent to vote in favor of the fountains at this time. I recommend putting the funds away for another time.

What does the boat ramp have to do with evaporation? Council members are allowed to inquire and relay citizen input to staff for evaluation. I'm not sure if there is any added value to the minuscule detail. At any rate, here's the latest information about moving the water from the south to the north pool of Twin Buttes. It does in fact reduce the surface area of Twin Buttes by over 300 acre feet:

April 2, 2012 Evaporation savings by moving water from South Pool to North Pool at Twin Buttes

1) current levels of both pools as of 4/2/2012,
2) no loss of water in the transfer from the south to north pools.

Twin Buttes Reservoir
North Pool 1890.65’ 882 8,170
South Pool 1925.78’ 520 5,028

Total 1,402 13,198

Projected with observed south pool transferred to north pool

North Pool 1895.8’ 1,093 13,198

Projected change in water surface area (1402-1093) = 309 acres

Approximate annual average evaporation is 63 inches/year=5.25 feet

Change in water evaporated: 309 Acre Feet * 5,25 feet = 1622 acre feet per year.

These numbers are approximate and apply with the assumptions made.

Paul Alexander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PEU Report/State of the Division said...

How does the city plan to transfer the water with no loss?

PEU Report/State of the Division said...

Paul, thank you for the information you provided. I remain skeptical, given the assumptions made.

I don't expect a council member to be knowledgeable in every arena and apologize for being harsh.

I am concerned this Council has gone too far with privatization and development. I am concerned about losing access to prime windsurfing launches that I;ve enjoyed for years.

My beef with prior Mayors, City Managers and staff dealt with the cleanliness and safety at Twin Buttes. I donated many an hour to cleaning the shoreline of dangerous trash.

Paul Alexander said...

My main reservations about the water transfer are the same as yours. However, we'd increase the elevation of the north pool 6 feet with this transfer, so the north pool would be much better off. I don't think we'll empty the south pool completely. It may cause legal hurdles and besides, its hard to keep up with the inflow of streams in the lake. One medium rain, and that lake will fill up overnight. It takes about 90 days to drain that pool, so we are way behind in schedule. We should be pumping starting April 1st at the latest. Also, to answer that one question, we could use pipes to pipe the water and eliminate losses.

PEU Report/State of the Division said...

There is no way the South Pool should be drained, especially to raise the North Pool a mere six feet.

The South Concho is the only river with regular flow. Water should only be pulled out of the South Pool to support San Angelo's critical water supply needs.

At drought levels, irrigation water from the South Pool should be suspended.

We've had a number of what I consider medium rains since October and the South Pool rose roughly two feet.

Your statistics show a South Pool at close to EQ level is nearly 40% of Twin Buttes total volume.

The plan your propose would create two mud pits, instead of one seemingly full body of water (South Pool) and a depleted looking North Pool.

The North Pool at 1896 feet vs. 1890 feet would still look depleted.