The Killeen City Council is scheduled to vote this week on a proposal that would recycle treated wastewater to irrigate the city’s golf course.
The reuse plan, which has been talked about for years, is a hole-in-one.
Not only will the recycled water save the city money, but it will help make more potable water available to the city’s growing population.
Killeen currently uses up to 500,000 gallons of treated, potable water per day on the city’s golf course, Stonetree Golf Club. That’s a lot of water, and at a cost of 61 to 62 cents per 1,000 gallons, the city is paying out about $310 daily.
But with estimates as low as 16 to 19 cents per 1,000 gallons of the reused “graywater” — suitable for watering plants but not for drinking — Killeen would face a daily cost of only $80 to $95, a savings of at least $78,000 a year.
In addition, the switch to reusable graywater will free up a half-million gallons of water for use citywide — a much-needed commodity in a city whose population is growing by 3 percent each year.
City Manager Glenn Morrison put it in perspective — the city is putting 1,000 homes worth of water on the golf course each day.
If the council agrees to the plan Tuesday, the project will face a 90-day review period by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Once the city and Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 agree on details for the reuse system, construction would begin after the first of the year at the 38th Street water treatment plant.
Morrison said the work would involve installing a pump and motors, connecting pipe to an abandoned line along Nolan Creek and then to a pump station along Roy Reynolds Drive.
Construction of the water reuse system is expected to take about six to nine months, Morrison said, after which the city will have a sustainable water source for a major city investment — the municipal golf course.
As significant as this project is, even more must be done to meet the city’s growing water needs.
Earlier this year, city staff predicted that before the year was out, Killeen would breach the 85 percent treatment capacity threshold set by the TCEQ, which requires the city to develop a plan to acquire more treated water.
With that in mind, engineers from the city and water district are in the design phase for construction of a new wastewater treatment facility on Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
The plant, which also will serve Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and other local cities, will be a regional plant, Morrison said. The district will construct it, and Killeen will pay its portion through water rates, with no increase in debt service — provided the city continues to purchase its water through WCID-1.
Currently, Morrison said, the city uses an average of 16.5 million gallons of water per day, with a peak usage of about 25 million gallons. With the city growing quickly, it’s important that the city act to ensure it has adequate water supplies for the foreseeable future.
The new treatment plant will be finished in less than four years, and will provide the city with an additional 10 millions of water per day. In the interim, WCID-1 has agreed to provide Killeen with an additional 2 million gallons of water per day, if needed.
Looking ahead, city officials must weigh the cost of the plant — currently estimated at $30 million — with the city’s long-term needs.
Morrison said the plant could be designed to provide even more water for the city — up to 12 million gallons per day.
It’s hard to know at this juncture how much the Killeen-Fort Hood community will grow in the coming decades, but even so, it seems logical to design the plant with more capacity, rather than less.
As with the golf course water project, it just makes good sense.