The Chisholm Trail Special Utility District plays an integral role in the future of water in Bell County. The tricky part is, Chisholm plays an integral role in the future of Williamson County’s water, too.
Based in Florence, Chisholm pumps water throughout large swaths of Williamson County and southern Bell County. Droughts have many people worried about whether there will be enough water to serve the community in the future, but Chisholm’s relationship with the city of Georgetown has also raised a lot of eyebrows in Bell County.
Chisholm’s interim general manager, Gordon Pierce, said as of right now, the utility district has the resources to handle the current water needs in the county. He also said there are no plans to sell out to Georgetown.
“Right now, we’re in great shape,” Pierce said. “The biggest issue is future long-term commitments on water.”
Chisholm has the capacity to pump 9.2 million gallons per day of surface water and 2 million gallons of groundwater. Chisholm pumped about 1.4 million gallons of surface water and 660,000 million gallons of groundwater per day in January, well below capacity.
Chisholm is permitted by the state to use 11,100 acre-feet of water in Stillhouse Hollow Lake. That water is pumped to Georgetown for treatment before being dispersed throughout the area. Chisholm also pumps water from two wells on the Edwards Aquifer.
“All of the water is combined as it flows through the system,” said Chisholm Field Manager Harry Randall.
In early November, Florence Mayor Mary Condon told the Herald the city developed a contract with Chisholm to bring raw water to the city’s current well-water system. Randall said as of right now, Chisholm is not serving Florence.
“We don’t serve the city of Florence,” Randall said. “They are their own entity.”
Pierce said Chisholm does not have any plans to sell out to Georgetown, but he did say they will be consolidating operations.
“We are entering the ‘definitive agreement’ phase with the city of Georgetown,” Pierce said. “In October, there was a memorandum of understanding signed by Chisholm and Georgetown. We’re now ready to come to the table and agree on a consolidation agreement of some type.”
It remains to be seen how such an agreement would impact Bell County. Regardless, Chisholm’s capacity to satisfy future growth is in question.
“At this point, we have enough water to serve our customers,” Randall said. “As for the future, it’s not just the drought. I can’t project how many customers may come into the district going forward.”