In a regular meeting of the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority on Wednesday in Plainview, its eleven member board voted to resume pumping water from Lake Meredith during the summer peak consumption, which lasts through about mid-September.
This marks the first time that water has been pumped from the man-made lake since pumping operations stopped in the fall of 2011, due to low lake levels caused by the drought.
The lake water will be blended with water from CRMWA owned well-fields to insure a chloride content of 300 ppm (parts per million) or lower. This is the maximum chloride content allowed for cities to continue to have a "superior" water quality rating.
It is critical because, unlike member cities like Lubbock and Amarillo, smaller member cities are unable to further treat their water by blending because they are dependent on CRMWA for 100 percent of their water.
The motion to resume pumping was offered by Lubbock representative Jim Collins after extended discussion and input from member city officials.
City of Lubbock Director of Water Resources Aubrey Spear addressed the board, saying, "It won't help a whole lot if we're just going to do this a few weeks."
However, he added that any relief given well fields, which pump from the Ogallala Aquifer, is welcomed.
Chloride (salts) content and time required to perfect the blend was a topic of concern in the discussion. Water from the lake is high in chloride and is mixed with water from the well fields owned by CRMWA. Any change in the water blend is likely to be noticed by consumers. Also, starting and stopping the pumps, which is part of the process in achieving the targeted 300 ppm chloride content, creates excessive wear and tear on the pumps that deliver the water to member cities.
Pumping water from the lake helps to lower the chloride content.
The amount anticipated to be pumped would only drop the lake level about one foot according to Executive Director Kent Satterwhite. CRMWA reports that the current lake level is 41.16 feet, up from its 8/7/2013 low of 26.14 feet. Gate level (lowest that standard pumps can pump from the lake) is 37 feet. There is currently about 25,000 acre feet available. CRMWA staff estimates approximately 3,000 acre feet will be used during the peak period.
One concern about not pumping was the certainty of losing water through evaporation, something that does not happen with water in underground aquifers. Evaporation also contributes to increased chloride levels.
Several board members expressed their desire to conserve water reserves in the Ogallala Aquifer for future generations. Upon offering the motion to begin pumping Collins commented, "Any gallon not pumped out of that [CRMWA owned] well-field is a gallon we still have" in the Ogallala Aquifer.
Member cities of the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority are Amarillo, Borger, Brownfield, Lamesa, Levelland, Lubbock, O'Donnell, Pampa, Plainview, Slaton and Tahoka. Each city has one vote on the board and is billed according to the amount of water that it consumes.Copyright 2014 KCBD. All rights reserved.