The drought was the primary focus at the Wichita Falls City Council meeting on Tuesday. It included a review of cloud seeding results. Another topic was long term water supply solutions.
“There will always be droughts in this part of Texas,” Public Works Director Russell Schreiber said, “Always has, always will be.”
He said they started with over 20 ideas, but after ranking them, they narrowed it down to 12. Schreiber said consultants did extensive research on the select 12. They looked as far as 2070 while they were doing their research. They came up with multiple solutions, including tapping into Lake Bridgeport and Lake Texoma, but that wasn't their top recommendation.
“The consultants recommend pursuing Lake Ringgold, which makes a lot of sense to me,” he said.
Schreiber said city officials are leaning towards this solution. One of the reasons is because it's the least expensive.
“The further away you go, the more expensive it gets,” he said.
Estimates show the Lake Ringgold project alone will cost nearly $300-million. The second reason why city officials are leaning towards this recommendation is because it will take the least amount of time to get online.
Lake Ringgold takes 30 years to build," Schreiber said, "If we started today it would be 25 to 30 years before Ringgold would be built and then it has to fill up with water. So, that may be another two or three years there."
said this is why they need to act fast.
"Actual construction, that's the easy part, but it's getting to the point where you can construct it that takes a long time," he said.
The short term solution consultants recommended was local groundwater and the Wichita River.
"Maybe this groundwater project proves up to be just perfect and that extra two, three-million gallons of water is just exactly what we need," he said, "We just don't know that right now."
He said there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in the next two weeks. However, they have to move forward. He explained they will be looking at the recommendations and them coming up with a presentation to show to City Council members in two weeks.
He said, "You just have to go on what you know today and you have to go on what your consults advise you and recommend you to do."
Schreiber said he is very confident in the recommendations. The consultants looked at the history of the drought, population, growth, water demand, and more.
"They're very seldom wrong. They typically know exactly what they're recommending and they wouldn't recommend it if they weren't 100-percent confident in their recommendation," Schreiber said.
He said, once city officials decide what direction they want to go, planning will get underway.
Schreiber said even though it will take 30 years to build Lake Ringgold, if it gets approved, the permanent water reuse project will get us through the next drought. He said they expect to have it completed in the next 24 to 26 months.
"We'll get through this drought and we will be stronger for it," Schreiber said.