Stage 3 Drought Emergency is just days away for residents in Wichita Falls and there's no sign our water supply is getting any better. With the long-term health of the community at risk, City Councilors and Staff are looking at every option to replenish our water supply.
One source of water currently flowing right out our back door and down the Wichita River, is the treated waste water from the River Road Wastewater Treatment Plant. Now the city is exploring a way to re-capture that water and mix it into household taps.
Wichita Falls Public Works Director Russell Schreiber said, "We think its in everyone's best interest to take the effluent, bring it back, quit pulling water out of Lake Kemp and replace that supply with the effluent from River Road.
The program has 2 parts, a long term solution and a short term plan to alleviate the drought, The Temporary Water Reuse Program will pump treated waste water from River Road to the Cypress water treatment plant. There it will undergo reverse osmosis and the same treatment as water from Lakes Kickapoo and Arrowhead.
Schreiber said the process is very thorough, "In essence the water gets treated 3 times before its back in the system. The water is extremely clean. If you were to take a glass of it and a glass of drinking water side by side it would be difficult to tell the difference between the two.
Mike Burns lives in Wichita Falls and supports the plan. He said, "Its acceptable and we should do that. Recycle it and it will be good.
Gabby Sanchez said she already prefers bottled water to the city's taps, but added she would be ok with using recycled water elsewhere in her home. "I think so, I'm ok with it. If its just me showering I'm ok with it. For drinking water, I'll stick to buying water.
The Wichita Falls City Council will vote on an ordinance at Tuesday's meeting that would allocate $300,000 for engineers to begin planning the logistics of the program. Schreiber said it could be up to a year before we see recycled water mixed with lake water. Much of the time frame depends on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.