This article first appeared in the Allen American on Sept. 18, 2017
Clean drinking water is critical to public health and safety. We can’t live without this essential resource that is delivered to north Texas homes and businesses for about a penny per gallon.
That cost pays for much more than the water itself. Behind your faucets is a network of pipes, pumps, facilities and people that take raw water from lakes and other sources, treat it, test it and transport it to your home or business around the clock. The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) is a non-profit regional provider that supplies treated drinking water to more than 1.6 million people in 13 member cities and over 60 other communities across north Texas. The cost of maintaining and expanding the infrastructure needed to provide this vital resource is increasing, and we must raise the wholesale rate to cover those costs.
In late September, the NTMWD Board of Directors will consider a proposed increase of 25-cents per 1,000 gallons of treated water. The current rate is $2.53 per 1,000 gallons, and if approved, the wholesale water rate will increase to $2.78. Cities set their own rates above that to cover the local costs to store and manage the distribution of water to their customers.
About 85% of the rate charged by NTMWD funds the costs to operate, maintain, upgrade and expand the infrastructure needed to keep the regional system delivering safe, reliable water. The remaining 15% pays for the actual water consumed, including the chemicals and power to treat that water and deliver it to the cities we serve. We are not alone. Across the nation, water rates are going up. And with the rapid growth in our service area, the water system must grow to ensure reliable supplies for the future.
We’re responsibly planning and investing in new water sources to meet future needs. Our largest water project (more than 10 years in the making) is the proposed $1.2-billion Bois d’Arc Lake. Federal agencies are reviewing the last permit needed, and NTMWD is preparing for construction to begin in early 2018. Another water supply project under construction is the $120-million Trinity River Main Stem Pump Station and Pipeline scheduled for completion in early 2019. Both projects are critical for the future of North Texas.
The NTMWD wholesale water rate also funds required system improvements. Our original water treatment plant in Wylie, which began operation in 1956, is undergoing significant upgrades. NTMWD is investing nearly $150 million for necessary improvements at all four of the Wylie water treatment plants – increasing capacity, installing new filters and upgrading treatment processes. In the northern part of our water delivery system, more than 11 miles of new pipelines will be constructed as well as a new ground storage tank to maintain system pressure.
NTMWD also provides wastewater conveyance and treatment services to one million people across 24 communities. The regional wastewater conveyance system and 14 treatment plants operated by NTMWD also need over $125 million in upgrades and expansions, including at the Rowlett Creek treatment plant in Plano, the Stewart Creek West plant in Frisco and the Wilson Creek plant in Lucas. Next year, improvements are planned at the Floyd Branch regional treatment plant in Richardson. Each city pays a share of the costs based on its flows into the wastewater systems in addition to charges for water service.
While it may seem like nothing is different about the water flowing in and out of your home, there’s a lot that goes into keeping these essential services “out of sight and out of mind.” Your water rates pay for #MoreThanWater.