The Killeen City Council has an option on the table to build a water treatment plant on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, which would increase Killeen’s water capacity by 10 million to 12 million gallons per day.
“Water is a very precious commodity throughout the United States, particularly in Texas,” Jerry Atkinson, Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 general manager, told the council at its workshop meeting Tuesday. “We have been discussing water issues for better than five years now.”
Atkinson said when discussions regarding the plant began, the cost was “pretty significant.” It was recommended that WCID-1 build a facility that would stress a regional approach and serve Killeen and neighboring cities, which in turn would drive costs down.
Two options are on the table for Killeen — a 10 million-gallon capacity per day or 12 million gallons.
Mayor Dan Corbin recommended going with the 10 million-gallons per day capacity.
“Right now we are using an average of 16 million gallons out of the 32 million-gallon capacity out of Belton Lake,” he said. “(If) we put in an additional 10, we would have 44 million gallons a day to work with.”
The city also freed up 500,000 gallons of water a day by approving a water reuse project to irrigate the golf course with graywater rather than potable water.
Atkinson said assuming Killeen goes with the 10 million gallons per day option, the cost for the facility would be about $29.6 million.
As far as water rates, the city currently pays only for the water it uses at a rate of 61 cents per 1,000 gallons. Atkinson said the rate has increased 6 cents over the past six years.
Allen Wilke, the district’s engineer, said because Stillhouse is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, environmental and archaeological studies have to be done to prove harm won’t be done to the area before the land can be acquired.
“We believe that because Kempner has already located a treatment plant on the property and a raw water intake and raw water pipeline on corps property, that we can use a lot of their work and their studies to move ours along with dealing with the federal government,” he said.
He said it could take anywhere from just shy of three years to five years to complete.
Earlier this year, city staff predicted that before the end of the year Killeen would breach the 85 percent treatment capacity threshold set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which requires the city to develop a plan to obtain additional treated water.
The council is scheduled to vote on construction of the water treatment plant at its Oct. 29 meeting.