Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM

Mr. Tom Ray

Engineering Consultant, City of Waco

TESTIMONY OF J. Tom Ray, P.E.

Project Manager, Central Texas Water Recycling Project

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc.

July 27, 2006

COMMITTEE ON

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER AND POWER

UNITED STATES SENATE

 

Good afternoon, Senator Murkowski and Senators. My name is Tom Ray.  I am project manager for the Central Texas Water Recycling project and an engineer and program manager with the engineering firm of Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of including H.R. 3418, the Central Texas Water Recycling Act of 2005 and for the leadership of this subcommittee in scheduling this hearing.  The incredibly hot summer that we are having in Texas and that our friends are having in California is a reminder of how our water resources can be stretched to the limit by forces of nature and the demands of rapidly increasing populations.  It is also a reminder of the importance of the projects that are being considered today before this subcommittee.  I also want to express my sincere gratitude to Congressman Chet Edwards for introducing this legislation and to Congressman John Carter for cosponsoring this measure. Both Congressman Edwards and Congressman Carter have been very supportive of initiatives to support water resources throughout Central Texas, and Central Texans certainly appreciate their work on this legislation.

 

Much of Texas is in the grips of an extreme drought.  It is recognized that every existing water resource that has the potential to augment our water supplies must be conserved and used efficiently.  This is recognized on a statewide basis by the Texas Water Conservation Association that has emphasized the value of water reuse throughout the State.  Recently adopted Statewide water plans, under the direction of the Texas Water Development Board, have identified water reuse as a critical component of future strategies to meet water shortages in each of the16 planning areas of the State.  In Central Texas, and particularly among the cities located in McLennan County, reuse is a major component of our current plans.  Reuse of treated wastewater effluent is included in the current expansion of the area’s regional wastewater treatment system.

 

In addition to prolonged drought conditions that stress our existing surface and groundwater supplies in Central Texas, demands on our water supplies continue to increase due rapid population growth that is occurring, particularly along the IH35 corridor.  As a result of these two factors, increasing demands due to population growth and continuing drought conditions, cities in Central Texas have invested significant local funds in a number of supply enhancement and water treatment projects in recent years.  These costly efforts include water quality protection programs for our major surface water and groundwater resources, enlargement of the conservation pool of Lake Waco, and investments in advanced water treatment processes to meet and exceed federal and state standards as well as to remove taste and odor.  All of these investments are substantial for the citizens of McLennan County and Central Texas.  As a result, the cities are actively pursuing means to maximize those investments and to conserve our valuable water resources.  Water recycling and reuse of reclaimed wastewater effluent is therefore a key component of this effort.  H.R. 3418 will help us to succeed in this effort to replace the use of costly, treated water supplies for uses such as irrigation, cooling water and other industrial uses.

 

Reuse supplies will help us cope with seasonable demands and peak water use.  With temperature repeatedly reaching well over 100 degrees this month, it emphasizes the seasonal effects on water use and water demands.  To help address the spikes in demand due to seasonal water use, the community of cities in McLennan County is incorporating reuse into the current plans to expand the regional wastewater treatment system.  As opposed to expanding the central wastewater treatment located in a remote, downstream area, the expansion will be accomplished with “satellite” wastewater treatment plants that will be located in areas near the high growth corridors.  This growing areas that include industrial, commercial, and residential as well as park lands and gold courses owned by the cities, will have the opportunity to reduce dependence on the use of costly treated water by having high quality, wastewater effluent available for irrigation and industrial uses.  The “McLennan County Regional Satellite and Reuse Project” will provide a unique combination of reuse benefits at an outlying treatment facilities located in the major growth corridor.

 

The Central Texas Water Recycling Act will help support these efforts to provide sustainable water supplies in this area of Texas.

 

With this background, let me summarize the specific need for and benefits of the reclamation and water recycling project.  Today, the growth areas of the regional wastewater collection facilities are hydraulically overloaded.  In addition, the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, which currently treats all wastewater generated by the serves all of the six cities that comprise the regional wastewater system is nearing its permitted discharge capacity.  The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is requiring plans for the expansion of the existing wastewater treatment capacity.

 

A comprehensive engineering solution to this wastewater challenge is the construction of a satellite wastewater reclamation plants and facilities to in part provide benefits from the reuse of the reclaimed effluent. The benefits of satellite plants are significant, in addition to avoiding expensive relocation of infrastructure and downstream conveyance improvements (estimated at $2.1 million), the plants will provide capacity for future growth in the “high growth” corridor, and significantly, the reclaimed water produced at the proposed reclamation plant can be readily delivered to dozens of end users within the nearby vicinity.  Not only would this reclaimed water be a revenue generator, it would also help reduce the summertime peak water demands at the regional water treatment plant.

 

In summary, this legislation will not only provide for conservation of our community’s water supply but will also reduce cost to the taxpayers and provide benefits to the environment as treated effluent is not dumped into river but is used to sustain habitat in our parks and recreational areas.  Recycling of highly treated wastewater provides an additional valuable resource for a large number of identified reuse applications, including golf courses, landscape irrigation, industrial cooling water, and other industrial applications.  The initial projects eligible for funding under this legislation can provide up to 10 million gallons per day of reuse water; thereby, reducing the water demand on Lake Waco.  This is enough water supply to meet the needs of over 20,000 households.

 

Senator Murkowski and members of this subcommittee, we strongly support H.R. 3418, and the assistance it will provide for the McLennan County Regional Satellite and Reuse Project. The community of cities in McLennan County has committed significant funding to support the development of this project.

 

We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Bureau of Reclamation to design, plan and construct a consolidated system to improve the efficient use of water resources in McLennan County.   

 

Thank you for allowing me to appear before you today.