The Killeen-Fort Hood area’s largest water wholesaler this week approved big Christmas spending for water improvement in the town of Belton.
At its regular board meeting on Wednesday morning, the Bell County Water Improvement and Control District No. 1 (WCID-1) approved spending of about $ 6 million, mostly for l improvement of the low water service pumping stations in the town of Belton. The pumps will increase water pressure in many areas southwest of the Belton Lake water plant, quenching much of the thirsty infrastructure between Nolanville and Belton.
WCID-1 awarded BlackRock Construction of Mansfield, Texas a contract worth $ 1.6 million on Wednesday and Archer Western Construction of Austin a contract worth more than $ 4 million, both to complete the improvements of the low-consumption water pumping station.
Allen Woelke, vice president of CDM Engineering that designed WCID-1’s new Stillhouse Hollow Lake water treatment plant and consulted with the district on other ongoing projects, told the Herald this week that most new costs of improving Belton’s infrastructure are associated with large amounts of copper and other metals needed to do the job well.
âA big part of the project is steel and the other part is copper,â Woelke said of the improvements to the low-consumption water pumping station.
Like other water providers across the state and country, WCID-1 combats the rising costs associated with inflation.
âI’ve never seen a time when price inflation is as bad as it is now,â Woelke told the Herald.
Market forces have also led to a huge increase in the cost of chemicals.
âChlorine is up 174% from the same time last year,â WCID-1 chief executive Ricky Garrett said in a Wednesday morning presentation to the board.
Garrett said WCID-1 has gone so far as to notify Congressmen John Carter, R-Round Rock and Roger Williams, R-Austin of the sharp rise in the prices of chemicals in the hopes Washington can help. otherwise WCID-1 customers can expect to pay an additional 6 cents per thousand gallons just to meet the cost of chemicals.
âHopefully we get some kind of a cure, otherwise it’s an increase in the cost of living that we’ll have to pay,â Garrett said.
WCID-1 processed some 1.07 billion gallons of water in October and spent some $ 3.2 million, less than half of its budget for the year so far, on the side of the water from its operations. The chemicals cost $ 357,259 in the district’s 2020-2201 fiscal year, but they expect to have paid around $ 448,487 through October of this year. In October 2020, WCID-1 paid $ 51,734 for chemicals, but in October, almost $ 100,000 was paid. Laboratory supplies and equipment maintenance for the district’s water supply operations also saw sharp increases from the same period last year, according to data presented to the council on Wednesday.
The cost of the district’s sewer operations has grown from around $ 2.3 million in the district’s final year 2020-2021 to around $ 2.85 million so far this year. District sewer operations have treated about 3 billion gallons of water so far and forecast a surplus of some $ 700,000 for the current fiscal year.
In the aftermath of the February winter storm Uri and the passage in June of Texas Senate Bill 3, which requires state and local governments to begin to “prepare for, prevent and respond to weather emergencies, power and other disasters, âWCID-1 moved to prepare a back-up power generation plan at all of its major water treatment facilities. WCID-1 has since explored the cost of diesel generators at all of its facilities, digging natural gas lines to power natural gas generators, and a combination of the two, to ensure that water continues to flow in the event of an outage. current.
According to previous Herald reports, WCID-1 had in the past avoided the high cost of such back-up power generation, but Garrett now appears to be urging the board to make such an investment.
âThis latest storm made me change my mind,â Garrett said in April.
But the investment will not be cheap. Garret told the board in April that such a plan would cost at least $ 8 million. Such a large generator fleet could give the district the ability to sell any excess power not needed in an emergency to the highest bidder when market prices rise like they did in February. But as Garrett delves into the question of how much will that many generators cost, the costs get bigger and bigger.
âThe backup generation might come out sooner because we’ll have these proposals,â Garrett told the WCID-1 board this week. “But I don’t know if $ 8 million will be enough.”