WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Opposition to building the Lake Ringgold reservoir has been growing and letters of opposition are expected from Clay County officials and residents.
“Ringgold has been an identified reservoir site since the 1950s,” Wichita Falls director of public works Russell Schreiber said.
The project cost is currently estimated at roughly 442 million dollars and would be covered by loans from around the state.
“A lot of people think that Lake Ringgold can’t be built without a bond election, but the city of Wichita Falls can borrow money from the state water fund or from other sources, and then pay the loans back out of their water rates,” Texas Conservation Alliance executive director Janice Bezanson said.
The city says that much of their current debt would roll off the books in 2028. If they take the loans after that date and the price of construction doesn’t change dramatically, water bills won’t be affected greatly.
“Our numbers say it’ll cost about eight dollars a connection, the average water bill would go up by eight bucks,” Schreiber said.
The city has considered many different projects, like piping in water from out of the area such as from the Panhandle.
“And all those projects they were way more expensive than Ringgold, or they didn’t supply enough water, that’s it,” Schreiber said.
Many in Clay county are expected to submit letters of opposition to the project.
“The Clay county commissioner’s court, the city of Henrietta, the Henrietta chamber of commerce, the farm bureau, the texas and southwestern cattle raisers, a number of landowners and wildlife and private property groups,” Bezanson said.
“We’re not going to just take their land from them we’re going to have to compensate them for it,” Schreiber said.
Bezanson knows the impact the 2011 to 2015 drought had on Wichita Falls was significant but says the projects already made can cover for possible loss.
“It’s understandable that people in Wichita falls would worry about water supply after what happened in 2011 to 2015 drought, that’s why the city put the reuse project in place, and that reuse project is the protection now, it’s the backup so Wichita Falls will never run out of water,” she said.
Schreiber says that isn’t true and the data shows the city still needs more.
“The state water plan that gets updated every five years it says the city of Wichita Falls demonstrates a need of roughly 850 million gallons of water right now, if we had another drought of record today we’d be 850 million gallons short,” he said.