Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Will (or Lack Thereof) to Use Reclaimed Water

San Angelo's City Council is slated to approve engaging Alan Plummer Associates Inc (APAI) to conduct an updated Reclaimed Water Feasibility study .  It returns to Council's June 17th agenda after the City of San Angelo Development Corporation (COSADC) approved funding for the study.

Alan Plummer Associates also performed the initial study in 2006.  Their report had a singular suggestion:

"The recommended alternative is one that includes augmentation of Twin Buttes Reservoir with reclaimed water." Alan Plummer Associates Inc. February 2, 2006

The recommended solution didn't happen. It's not clear anyone ever heard that recommendation from the lips of Water Chief Will Wilde.

City Council minutes from the March 7, 2006 don't include the report's recommended alternative.  Minutes show:

Water Utilities Director Will Wilde presented background information and reported staff had received a final report on the Reclaimed Water Feasibility Study (submitted by Allen Plummer Associates, Inc. and part of Supplemental minutes). He stated the consultants were charged with looking at the various options available to the City, had identified potential customers for the reclaimed water, suggested options for direct use, and identified treatment updates to accommodate the reclaimed water. Mr. Wilde advised studies continue on various new chemicals, reuse of effluent water, underground aquifer treatment, and reverse osmosis treatment process with associated cost varying up to $50-60 million.

Mayor J.W. Lown directed staff to develop a condensed executive summary listing the various water projects, a status report of each project, funding mechanisms available to the city, and a timeline for completion.
Mayor Lown's request fell flat.  Here's Wilde's position on reclaimed water in 2011:

According to San Angelo’s water manager Will Wilde, the city is nowhere near actively pursuing the use of wastewater for municipal use.
In May 2012 the City of San Angelo Development Corporation Board physically saw Will wave the 2006 study.  It took six years for the study to resurface.

The board explored using treated water for irrigating the Texas Bank Sports Complex. Will Wilde did his usual routine, feigned interest, shared his expertise, then ignored the COSADC board's request.

Over a six year period Water Chief Will Wilde successfully blocked the 2006 Reclaimed Water Feasibility Study, keeping it out of sight for most of that time.  When directed by Mayor Lown or the COSADC board Will ignored their requests.  Wilde successfully blocked reclaimed water use for anything other than irrigation:

The Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District #1’s water supply is made up of a combination of storage water from Twin Buttes Reservoir when available, reuse water from the City of San Angelo, and 100% of tail water is reused within the District. All of our water is used for agricultural purposes. Reclaimed water and stored water are used to provide irrigation service to approximately 118 farms and 15,000 acres.

Will Wilde owns one of the 118 farms receiving the city's reclaimed water.  That's a fact worth keeping in mind for anyone curious as to the city's lack of progress in this arena.

Newly elected City Councilwoman Elizabeth Grindstaff expressed puzzlement on reclaimed water in running for council.

We have communities using effluent water, reclaimed water.  And why the city has not looked at that seriously for the last ten to fifteen years, I don't understand why.  I would love to hear that having worked in other cities where reclaimed water was an important component of the water portfolio. 
Grindstaff knows why because she saw it first hand as Assistant City Manager.  She is seen below talking with Will at the May 9, 2012 COSADC board meeting.  Grindstaff stayed for the entire meeting, reclaimed water use and all.

These two would clash again in another city debacle, the unauthorized purchase of over $100,000 in water department furniture, also known as the Furniture Fiasco

For those interested in the 2006 study it can be found below:

There's a new study coming.  Let's hope city leaders do better with this one. 

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