A top 10 employer in Wichita Falls is stepping up their water conservation efforts.
On Monday, March 9th, 2015, Howmet broke ground on a new wastewater treatment system. It will be the first of its kind in Texas and is called the Natural Engineered Wastewater Treatment System.
"It combines traditional take based treatment systems with a naturally engineered wetland technology system," Mike Pepper, President of Alcoa Power and Propulsion said.
Right now the system is being used in Saudi Arabia, but now it is coming to Wichita Falls. The reason is because when Stage Five Water Restrictions were put in place in Wichita Falls, the city went to all of the industries asking them to find a way to conserve 20-30-percent of their daily water consumption.
"As we went through that analysis over the past couple of years and it became clear to us that we had an opportunity to really showcase and demonstrate Alcoa technology in a way that could be meaningful for the citizens of Wichita Falls," Pepper said.
However, this project will reduce the water consumption at the plant by 68-percent.
"A 68-percent reduction is no small matter," Congressman Mac Thornberry said.
However, the cost of the project is not a small amount.
Pepper said, "The total cost of this project is $2.4-million."
Half of the project is being funded through Howmet. The other half is being funded by the 4A board city of Wichita Falls through the economic development corporation.
Tim Ingle, Wichita Falls District 4 Councilor, explained this will not be an increase on taxes for residents.
"Of the eight and a quarter sales tax, a quarter cent goes to 4A," Ingle said.
One of the reasons why this treatment system will be built in Wichita Falls is because officials said it is one of the largest plants in the world.
Pepper said, "So, it is very important that we put this plant on a solid foundation to be able to continue to grow in the future."
Congressman Thornberry said it is a great project because Wichita Falls has had a more serious drought than other parts of the state.
Ingle said, "The system is just fascinating. I mean, it's just something that makes Wichita Falls one of the unique places."
However, Wichita Falls won't just be unique. As Ingle said, the city will be the global leaders of water conservation, water savings, and water technologies.
Officials said construction will start immediately and they expect to have the system up and running by the fall.