In 2015, San Angelo received above normal rainfall for the year but that doesn’t mean San Angelo has a healthy supply of water available. In fact, San Angelo’s City Water Utilities Director, Bill Riley, said we need to urgently press forward in San Angelo’s efforts to secure more water.
According to the National Weather Service, in 2015 San Angelo received 26.78 inches of water, above the normal yearly average of 21.25.
Riley said West Texas is one of the few places in Texas where reservoirs remain at less than 20 percent of their capacity. Unless significant runoff flows into O.H. Ivie Reservoir, San Angelo’s primary water source, it could be functionally dry next year.
San Angelo’s Water Utilities Department and the Water Advisory Board are prepared to recommend to the City Council that it approve a wastewater reuse project. The project would come at an estimated cost of $136 million and would add 7 million gallons per day to San Angelo’s existing water supply.
The Water Utilities Department and the Water Advisory Board are proposing to treat wastewater back to drinking standards. According to Riley, the taste would far surpass not only San Angelo’s surface water supply, but bottled water, as well. Rather than pumping treated wastewater back into a reservoir, where it would be subject to evaporation and the expense of being treated again, this proposal would deliver that water directly to San Angelo’s treatment plant for final purification.
Financing for such a project was made possible by the water rate increase that took effect Jan. 1. The increase will be phased in over five years with the average residential customer paying $5.88 more per month this year.
The Water Utilities Board and Department are looking into several other options for additional water supply. They are doing a study over the next year to monitor the flow of water through the Red Arroyo as part of an effort to determine the viability of capturing and treating storm water runoff.
They are also continuing to work with the West Texas Water Partnership, pursuing a regional water source that could serve San Angelo, Abilene and Midland, along with some surrounding communities.
Contractors will continue to complete the Hickory Aquifer expansion, giving San Angelo access to additional groundwater. The city continues to bank unused allotment from the Hickory for a worst-case drought scenario in which San Angelo must rely upon it as a sole water source.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association predicts for March, San Angelo has enhanced chances for above normal precipitation.
According to the National Weather Service in San Angelo, drought conditions are redeveloping in West Central Texas. Topsoil has become dry and there is an increased risk in grass and brush fires prior to spring green up. Long-term effects of the drought are still evident in some of the area surface (reservoir) water supplies.