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#1 RD Milhollin

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 11:32 AM

In one of the first classes in my first year in college I took a course in Texas Government to fulfill a civics requirement. The professor started the course with a single question: "What is the most important problem facing Texas in the future?" He asked all around the room and the answers varied all over the board; when everyone had their say he stated that in his opinion that problem was going to be water; specifically the lack of water. That was in 1976. 

 

In my opinion the professor was spot-on. Texas may have a lot of issues, but over and above them all the question of adequate water for the future will determine how we live in Texas, and even if people can continue to live in certain parts of the state as water supplies dwindle. The dramatic growth of the north Texas metropolitan region, characterized by and large by individual one-story homes with grass yards and lots of pavement means that existing water supplies are stretched as "urban ranchers" do what is needed to keep their front pastures green while periodic heavy rains are flushed into overloaded drainage systems causing flooding rather than replenishing the usable water supply.

 

I looked around the forum archives and could not find a topic dealing specifically with this issue. 

 

Now we have one.

 

We as residents and consumers depend on water for drinking, cleaning, sanitation, irrigation, and many other uses. Agriculture uses water to grow the food we depend on. Recreation like boating, fishing, water parks, and golf depend on adequate amounts of water. Industry uses massive amounts of water for a variety of process, locally the hydraulic fracturing process consumes millions of gallons per well operation; money and politics appear. The bulk of water available to us in the metroplex comes from shallow surface reservoirs that depend on adequate rainfall to maintain sufficient supplies for current projected use and for anticipated future needs. Much of the water in Tarrant County comes from the Tarrant Regional Water District, so now more politics and money come into the mix. Leaders have long recognized that there is a problem but the attempts to moderate the foreseen effects thus far seem too little and certainly behind the timeline the threat is traveling on. For a long time in Texas there was no official recognition that global warming, a significant driver of changing rainfall patterns, was in fact a reality. Even so, funds have been allocated to help residents replace inefficient and leaking water appliances like toilets, cities have redoubled efforts to fix or replace leaking mains, and when the beast raises its head water restrictions are imposed, although thus far only on a temporary basis. What more can be done?

 

Water problems come in two flavors: too little water and too much water. This topic can be used to discuss both sides of the water problem coin. Feel free to weigh in with stories or opinions relating to the finance, economics, engineering, spiritual, artistic, practical, scientific, drought, flood, lakes, wells, insurance, past, future, politics, legislation, hope, fear, and muckity-muck of the water situation in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the Metroplex, the Trinity River watershed, and all of North Texas.



#2 RD Milhollin

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Posted 11 December 2014 - 11:36 AM

Star-Telegram article on the need for rains to avoid tougher water regulations:

 

http://www.star-tele...cle4405728.html

 

Water reservoirs are at 61%, and now is the time that seasonal rains can replenish supplies in order to avoid use restrictions next year. 



#3 RD Milhollin

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Posted 27 May 2015 - 08:01 AM

 

Water problems come in two flavors: too little water and too much water. This topic can be used to discuss both sides of the water problem coin. Feel free to weigh in with stories or opinions relating to the finance, economics, engineering, spiritual, artistic, practical, scientific, drought, flood, lakes, wells, insurance, past, future, politics, legislation, hope, fear, and muckity-muck of the water situation in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the Metroplex, the Trinity River watershed, and all of North Texas.

 

 

I think this topic might have gained a little increase in relevance over the past couple of weeks...



#4 JBB

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Posted 27 May 2015 - 09:23 AM

Water reservoirs are at 61%, and now is the time that seasonal rains can replenish supplies in order to avoid use restrictions next year.


A pretty prophetic post from 6 months ago. Bridgeport is full as of this morning and is 0.10 feet from releasing water downstream into 2 lakes (Eagle Mountain and Worth) that are already full.

#5 RD Milhollin

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Posted 14 June 2015 - 09:37 AM

Glad to see there is some thinking going on regarding how to deal with future water problems now that the most recent drought has ended. Aquifer storage is being looked at as a way to save stormwater that causes floods for use during times of drought, utilizing vast underground reservoir potential:

 

http://www.star-tele...le24196426.html

 

Some key points are that the runoff going into the Gulf would be enough water to satisfy Texas' water needs for a year, and that the water stored in aquifers isn't subject to evaporation like the shallow reservoirs we depend on for storage in north Texas. It is appropriate that the byline for the article is Lubbock, since that city and the surrounding agricultural area were settled based on groundwater availability, and the depletion of that resource over 100 years seriously threatens viability of large populations and farming in that area. One minor correction is that the author describes aquifers as rock layers, but in this area and in the Great Plains aquifers are often layers of sand and gravel sandwiched between rock layers, some more porous and permeable to water movement than others. 

 

The article states that "at least 20 water entities are considering the idea, including the one for Tarrant County.." and I am not sure if this is the city Water Department or the TRWD, although I guess it is the latter. Regardless, this initiative is certainly to be commended as the problems of water, both shortage and surplus, are bound to be headline grabbers in our area for the foreseeable future.



#6 RD Milhollin

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Posted 18 June 2015 - 07:46 AM

I suppose that carcinogenic pollution in well water could be a wrinkle to the plan to use local aquifers for long-term storage of excess rainwater:

 

http://www.star-tele...le24830848.html

 

What do you want more: Fuel or water?



#7 Volare

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 04:54 PM

Glad to see this is finally being contemplated. Reservoirs are nothing but huge evaporation pans. Here in Fort Worth we evaporate more every day than we use, and in the summer it's as much as 5x more than we use. Which is why permanent water rationing in non drought conditions is nothing more than a feel-good exercise. Meanwhile, San Antonio has ceased their rationing and gone back to what we had in Fort Worth until last year: voluntary conservation.

 

http://www.saws.org/...fm?news_id=3083

 

Wait til you see how much they raise the water rates next year in Fort Worth to make up for your lack of usage! The quote from the new head of the Water Dept was that usage numbers are "dismal."



#8 RD Milhollin

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 10:37 PM

Just a quick point: San Antonio is the largest US city that is wholly dependent on aquifers for their water supply. The areas where the aquifers recharge is being carefully monitored, and as these areas come up for sale are being purchased by the water authorities to ensure future health of the water supply.

 

Extra: With all of the toxins that have been injected into the subsurface in this area I don't know if aquifer storage is going to be a safe source for drinking water. We might have to go to a dual-supply system where parallel pipes carry purified drinking water and "treated" water that could be used for lawns, toilets, washing cars, etc. This option would be twice as expensive to build and maintain (2x the miles of pipes...) but it might be an impetus for more urban/sustainable development if the infrastructure costs are passed along to developers, and the costs of treating water to drinking standards would decline since only water used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning would need to be fully treated. Rainwater would be a likely source for relatively clean water for these purposes once collection facilities are in place.

 

Sale of water as a cheap commodity, by businesses or by municipal governments, is foolish today, and may be seen as immoral and illegal in the (not-so-near) future... 



#9 RD Milhollin

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 09:14 AM

There is a nice article in the S-T by Bill Hanna about the various branches of the Trinity River and the history of flooding along the watershed:

 

http://www.star-tele...le25509598.html

 

Look for historical insights from forum member Quentin McGown in the article.



#10 RD Milhollin

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 08:13 AM

Interesting study results (well, at least to me...) about the relative water requirements for fracking for oil and gas production in different formations:

 

http://www.star-tele...le26615191.html

 

The Barnett formation is ranked as requiring more water than others (along with the Eagle Ford and Paynesville-Bossier formations). The Tarrant Regional Water District spokesman states that the amount of water they sold for fracking purposes was "a drop in the bucket" especially compared to the amount sold for outdoor use, but no mention is made that the used fracking water is not returned to the water cycle so is "used up" rather than just used.

 

About a year ago Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs called for a "revolution in water technology"that included changes to how much water was being used (and reused), including water used for fracking. Although some of the technologies included in the article are available, they are not mandated so drilling operations continue to use the cheapest method of operating, which is to dispose of waste water using injection wells rather than cleaning/recycling/reusing that water.

 

http://www.star-tele...cle3842671.html



#11 mmmdan

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Posted 09 July 2015 - 09:05 AM

I noticed the same thing with respect to not mentioning that the water that is injected has been removed from the water cycle.  Removing 1% of the total water used may not seem like a lot, but if you do it enough times the total amount will add up.



#12 RD Milhollin

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 08:51 AM

TRWD and Dallas Water Utilities awarded low interest loan to continue work on an Integrated Pipeline Project" to bring more water to the metros from east Texas reservoirs. 

 

http://www.star-tele...le28452094.html

 

There is some conservation/infrastructure work included in the funding plan, but there should probably be a lot more. There was no mention of any sort of large-scale rainwater harvesting, aquifer injection, existing reservoir maintenance and improvement, recycled water reuse, etc. being tied to the loans. Baby steps I suppose...



#13 RD Milhollin

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 08:04 AM

Fort Worth is considering an increase in water and sewer rates to cover increasing costs of treating and delivering water.

 

http://www.star-tele...le29996136.html

 

Water is of course a necessary public resource, we can't do without it. The infrastructure to process and deliver water is quite old and often inefficient, resulting in leaks that can result in up to 5 million gallon per day (MGD), this in 1985-86 when a comprehensive and very cost-effective leak detection program was being initiated.

 

http://twri.tamu.edu...s/twr-v13n3.pdf

 

Water pipes, meters, valves, meter boxes, fire hydrants need to be replaced at some point when they are shown to be obsolete or faulty, and new infrastructure has to be added to connect the sprawl development still being build around the edges of the city. 

 

So who gets to pay for this rejuvenation and growth of the water system? There is set of billing tiers in the city's billing system, and the proposed price increases will add about 7.78% for thrifty users and 7.82% for large users, a differential of only .04%. Is this enough of a penalty to discourage water waste? Is there any sort of differential impact fee for new or infill developments based on the distance between meters? "traditional" sprawl takes more feet of water and sewer line to connect, and this means more to maintain over time. Are there any provisions to reward homes or businesses that are equipped with rainwater harvesting facilities? Why isn't there an additional pricing tier for the largest per-installation users like fracking operations? Oh, they get discounted rates, right... and get to flush their wastes deep into the Earth and out of the immediate hydrologic cycle. 

 

The lakes are full right now, but that is in no way guaranteed to remain the case. The recent drought should have raised out attention to the need to pay more attention (and resources) to develop the most efficient and effective potable water system possible. 



#14 JBB

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 09:37 AM

I'm assuming you didn't mean to put this in the water thread. I drove through that area back in June and wondered whatever happened with this project. I thought I may have missed its completion.

#15 RD Milhollin

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 09:39 AM

I try to listen to the Texas Standard radio program on KERA weekdays at 10 AM, and one of the stories that caught my ear the other day dealt with rainwater and the possibilities of using it as a primary source of potable water in Texas homes:

 

http://www.texasstandard.org/stories/is-rainwater-the-answer-to-texas-water-problem/ 



#16 RD Milhollin

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 09:56 AM

S-T reports that North Texas is approaching a record for the longest stretch of days without rain. This following one of the wettest Springs in recorded history:

 

http://www.star-tele...le31124651.html

 

If there is no rain by Tuesday we bill move up into the slot reserved for the 4th largest dry streak, and Wednesday we move into 3rd place. Mayor price is encouraging conservation methods, including rain barrels, but has not yet crossed over to recommending building codes requiring large scale rainwater harvesting measures. I suppose another scare will be needed to nudge things along a little more.



#17 Volare

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Posted 16 August 2015 - 01:39 PM

Fort Worth is considering an increase in water and sewer rates to cover increasing costs of treating and delivering water.

 

...

 

This is a the continuing penalty that the citizens get to bear for doing such a great job of conserving water. Water usage has been trending downward in Fort Worth for years, even before the misguided permanent watering restrictions in non-drought conditions were put into place. When our lakes are overflowing and discharging freshwater to the Gulf of Mexico is when (from a revenue standpoint) we should be encouraging folks to water anything and everything. The new director of the Water Department recently described the usage numbers as "dismal", i.e. folks aren't using enough water to support the costs of the supply. So now, for the 4th year in a row, the rates are being raised.

 

In Austin, where similar "excessive conservation" has been encountered they actually have the audacity to add a "conservation surcharge" to the bills of their users. At least in cities like San Antonio water that isn't used today will actually be there (in the aquifer) to use tomorrow. No such luck here in DFW, where we have a supply that is 100% subject to evaporation. Water you don't use today won't be there to use tomorrow, it will have evaporated. Only recently have TRWD and NWS owned up to the fact that summertime evaporation rates are 4-5 times greater than usage. Even in the winter evaporation rates exceed usage.



#18 RD Milhollin

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 08:42 AM

Fort Worth City Council is poised to move forward on a plan to install electronic/wireless water meters, replacing all the old mechanical meters by 2019:

 

http://www.star-tele...le32398953.html

 

A company made a presentation to the Haltom City Council a few years ago offering the same sort of system and an accompanying plan to use the required antennas mounted on city street light poles to provide digital public safety communications and low or no-cost internet access to residents to boot! The council did not bite. 

 

One advantage of the electronic metering system is that even small leaks can be detected early and fixed, saving potentially millions of gallons of treated water for a city this size. The obvious drawback is the need for batteries attached to the meters; cost, replacement, malfunction, pollution potential, etc.



#19 Volare

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 02:36 PM

My home in a Minneapolis suburb had this nearly 20 years ago. The unit was a small box about 4x4x1 that was mounted just above the meter where it came up thru the slab. (No outside meters there for obvious reasons.)



#20 360texas

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 09:33 AM

LOLLLL  As long as the antenna does not extend above into the LAWN MOWER BLADE zone....   Or maybe they will need to replace ALL the cast iron water meter box tops with a fiberglass top.  

 

Fiberglass tops would be good idea as I frequently take my own water meter readings to bounce against the bill for Water Consumption, Waste water, Sanitation (read garbage bin), Storm water, Environmental charges.


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#21 Volare

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 11:07 AM

I should also mention that when I moved to another suburb of Minneapolis, we didn't have the radio transponders. In those cases, the homeowner was responsible for water readings each month, and you would send it into the city. The City would only do the readings when you moved into a house, and when you moved out of a house (so if your monthly readings were way off, they woud eventually get your money.) Much cheaper manpower wise than these manpower intensive systems for both water and gas we use in Fort Worth with manual readings each month.



#22 RD Milhollin

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Posted 13 September 2015 - 10:00 AM

Mediation ordered in resolving inter-regional conflicts concerning proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir in east Texas:

 

http://www.fortworth...4ded2114d6.html

 

Building another massive shallow reservoir and flooding ten of thousands of productive land is not the best answer to the urban water problem. Reuse of runoff through rainwater harvesting, small to medium tank storage mandated for new construction and major renovations in the city, sensible landscaping, progressive water rate restructuring, modernization of the leaky delivery infrastructure... the problem needs to be addressed more by the cities affected by recurrent water shortages and not pushed off onto distant regions or states; we need to learn from what is happening in California. 



#23 RD Milhollin

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 12:14 PM

This is sort of the annual "get-ready-for-it" story about the water disaster getting ready to happen in north Texas, and the tired, conventional means the entrenched water powers are using to meet the challenge:

 

http://www.star-tele...le77997407.html

 

The main answer provided: massive new reservoirs in rural areas of east Texas and long-distance pipelines to suck that water toward Fort Worth.

 

Oklahoma fought back and won. East Texas may not be so successful since there is no state boundary between us and them that requires federal mediation or court intervention.

 

The plan calls for consideration of three new reservoirs and a pipeline that could stretch to the Louisiana border. The new lakes would be built in relatively flat terrain with high surface area-to-volume ratios, meaning lots of evaporation during summer months. No mention is made  (in the article) of state plans to forward wide-scale rainwater harvesting and storage ( so the flood/drought cycle would be free to continue) in urban areas where most of the forecast increase in population and resultant water use is set to take place. A change in building codes to require underwater storage for new developments with large roof or paved areas would help. Local credits (like exemption from floodways mitigation funds, see your water bill) would encourage small property owners to install rainwater harvesting equipment. Adjusting those local floodway fees to reflect the amount of paved and roofed areas on taxed property (rather than flat fees) would help in this regard as well as contributing to storm runoff mitigation. No mention of small-scale and local water retention and water use reservoirs along in-feeder creeks. No mention is made of systematic efforts to dredge existing lakes so they could hold and retain more water, especially during hot months when needed. I suppose it is assumed that water rates will increase and that this will help to keep usage down, but why are rates for large-scale consumption for this admittedly precious necessary resource discounted? The more logical approach would be to add a premium to use above certain threshold volumes, increasing as the amount used rises.

 

There is some mention made of waste water-reuse and the use of artificial wetlands to purify that water, but not much of that sort of thing actually appears to be part of the state plan. The state will apparently "study" the use of aquifer injection recharge being done in other parts of the country, but this will undoubtedly take several decades (the study! not the implementation) and besides our potential recharge zones may be contaminated with who-knows-what from the proprietary-recipe soup of chemicals the gas drilling companies have been pumping into the ground with the state's blessing; just another hidden cost of the "Texas economic miracle". There is also positive news in that water consumption has lowered pretty significantly in our region; water rates may be getting homeowner's attention. Part of that decline may also be attributable to the fall in petrochemical prices and the resultant decline in massive water use to support the fracturing process that makes those gas wells possible (well, profitable... at the time) Better attention to water leaks, even on a small scale is getting a boost as electronic meters are replacing old mechanical ones.

 

My take: the state agencies either do not seem to understand, or more likely are prone to ignore the relationship between drought and flood, two sides of the same problem in our area; Water. It is likely that their blinders are held in place by the corrupt political system in Texas (and nationwide) in which large, powerful, and monied intersts are able to influence the public decision-making process. The same corporations that profit from ridiculous highway projects are also set to earn massive rewards by building huge, inefficient dams and reservoirs to provide only short-term, not systemic relief from the water problems we face in this region.



#24 hannerhan

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 03:14 PM

I think it's a good thing that the reservoir ideas seem to be getting a lot of pushback.  All we need is a pipeline to Toledo Bend, and we're almost halfway there at Lake Palestine.  Toledo Bend has more water than we can use in the foreseeable future...seems like a very simple fix.






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