City council members may decide tonight how to best bring water from Lake Proctor to Stephenville.
Last week, council members deadlocked in committee over whether to accept Bowles Construction Company’s low bid of $3.129 million to construct 11 miles of 16-inch “transmission lines” for the often controversial water project.
The panel decided for the full council, when it meets at 5:30 p.m. tonight in the Council Chambers at City Hall, to take action without a recommendation from its Public Works Committee. At that time, Mayor Pro-Tem Todd McEvoy said he had “more questions” for the firm, HDR Engineering Inc., which has been aiding the city with the project.
Eight contractors submitted bids to construct a 16-inch transmission line. Those bids ranged from Bowles’ bid of $3.129 million to $5.22 million. In addition, at least one council member requested that the city ask for bids on a larger transmission line, and those bids ranged from $4.1 million to $6.2 million.
Lake Proctor, which is located in Comanche County, is Comanche County’s major recreational attraction. The lake’s surface covers 4,610 acres.
Some have complained about the taste of Lake Proctor water and that it will harm the taste and quality of the city of Stephenville water.
Others have said it is a necessary step as the city attempts to address future anticipated water needs and that the Lake Proctor water will only be used in case of a shortage in groundwater.
Council member Mark Murphy, who offered the motion in committee last week in favor of accepting Bowles’ bid, has said that while he isn’t “gung-ho” about the project, he doesn’t plan to try to “delay or stop” a project that was initiated “a few councils back.”
“Let’s get it over with,” Murphy said in a Letter to the Editor published Sunday. “I agree that we need the access to the water for insurance. It is a necessary ‘evil,’ if you will, and to stop it now would not be prudent and would cost us too much. Our water bills went up 25 percent to help pay for it beginning in 2004, and the debt has been issued.”
Murphy said, “Voters, including myself, thought they soundly defeated the pipeline project by a 7-to-1 margin a few years ago. We only defeated the funding source, and it was funded in a different manner.”
Murphy said when he got on the council, he learned the details and realized “how far along” the project was and “then reconsidered my stand on its necessity.”
“I was told that it was going to be used only as a backup source, but when I read the engineering details I discovered that plans were made to flush the pipeline out weekly into our city system,” Murphy said. “I brought this to the council’s attention, and we then together requested that the engineering design be changed to prevent us drinking the flush water.
“This delay also turned out to be fortunate in that the city of Dublin is now willing to share in the cost of our storage tank there, thus saving us around a quarter -million dollars. This may help offset some of the construction cost increases due to the delay on the flushing redesign.”
“I don’t want to drink Proctor water, but it will be better than no water should something happen to our wells or our groundwater become contaminated,” Murphy said. “Let’s only use the Proctor water when we have to, but let’s get the thing built and behind us.”
Also Tuesday, the council, among other things, is scheduled to:
Hear an annual report from Waste Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Johnny Davis, Receive a report concerning from the Planning and Zoning Commission concerning the “Future Land Use Map,” Consider an ordinance to set the date, time, and place for the first public hearing on proposed annexation, Consider approval of a resolution seeking increased funding for the Texas Recreation and Parks Account, Local Park Grant Program, and the Texas State Park System, Consider approval of a resolution approving investment policy, broker/dealers, and investment strategies, Consider approval of contract with Erath County for Municipal Court Service, and Consider a resolution calling for protection of the Trinity Aquifer.
DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.