San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 14th, 2009
City says water supply good until 2070


A report to the San Marcos City Council last week said investments during the next decade in conservation, infrastructure, treatment quality and water supply will meet the city’s until 2070.

City Manager Rick Menchaca and consultant Robert McClain discussed the results of a rate study for a multi-year planning period of 2010 to 2019.

The independent rate study, conducted by McLain Decision Support System of Lewisville, TX, projected revenues and rate issues facing the city’s water and wastewater utilities in the next decade.

McLain’s report indicated that the cost of providing service and paying debt for the water/ wastewater system is expected to increase 72 percent during the next decade, primarily to pay for major investments in facilities and infrastructure.

Through participation in the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA), a collaboration of San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, and Canyon Regional Water Authority, the city seeks to develop water supplies from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer east of San Marcos.

San Marcos has also acquired water supply from the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) with the aim of reducing dependence on the Edwards Aquifer.

The facility investments are driven by the need for future water supplies, wastewater purification at the highest levels, maintenance of the existing infrastructure, a projected 1.5 percent annual growth rate, and realistic future operating expenses.

San Marcos Director of Public Utilities Tom Taggart said, “The water supplies we are developing through GBRA and the HCPUA are expected to meet our needs until 2070.”

Planned  future improvements for the water system include infrastructure replacement for aged facilities in neighborhoods and across the city, new distribution lines, transmission lines, and elevated storage. Additionally, tank and pump station improvements are projected.

Projected wastewater improvements include replacement of aged neighborhood sewer lines, installation of wastewater interceptors across the city, and additional lift stations. There are also plans for a new wastewater plant in southeast San Marcos to be built in two phases. A multi-service center is slated to house all the utilities in one facility.

The council also heard an update on the the city’s efficiency task force, which recently completed a study on the water/wastewater utilities. The task force includes city officials, business leaders and Texas State graduate students.

The task force offered a number of recommendations including the expansion of customer education on a water utility website about the cost of services and the basis for water rates.

The efficiency task force also suggested that the city expand its use of technology, such as using “smart meters” to improve customer service. The task force recommended analyzing of system information to create benchmarks with accurate and meaningful results.

The efficiency task force also advocated continued development of conservation practices as a strategy for ensuring future water supply. Among the suggestions was increasing funding for incentive and rebate programs and exploring options for rainwater harvesting, condensation collection, graywater use and xeriscaping.

The task force that the city use the resources at Texas State University to assist in the utility’s effectiveness and efficiency.

The City Council agreed with city management to not increase water rates in Fiscal Year 2010.

The city faced a possible five percent rate increase last year. Due to efficiency improvements, the reduction of capital improvements and the issuance of new debt as certificates of obligation rather than revenue bonds, the rate increase was not required.

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