Guy Andrews
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Town Hall Meeting

A Town Hall Meeting was held on August 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM at the Ward County Convention Center Auditorium. The meeting was held to discuss the growing problem of lack of water in Texas. The meeting was sponsored by the Monahans Chamber of Commerce. Hal Upchurch said, "On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, we thank you for coming tonight. The subject we will discuss tonight is of critical importance to us. This problem is not only a local problem, but a regional problem too."

Guest speaker, Guy Andrews is a board member of the Texas Desalination Association and is the Director of Encomic Development for Odessa. Mr. Andrews introduced Darrell Peckham (A Hydro Geologist) from the Waterquest Association (an non profit organization) and said he would be available for questions.

Mr. Andrews spoke about establishing a desalination plant in Ward County. He also educated the attendees on what Odessa is doing for strategy about their current water problems. Guy said, "We have an abundant supply of water for our lifetime. But it will take everyone of us to make it affordable and to make it last."

97% of the worlds water is saline, 3% is fresh water. Of the 3% of fresh water 30.1% is ground water, 69% is ice caps and glaciers and .9% comes from other sources. The same water that existed billions of years ago is available today. The population growth is what has put a strain on our resources. In 2000, the demand for water started exceeding the water available.

The State of Texas has 49% ground water and 50% surface water. 27% of the water is used by Municipal, 11% by Industrial, 4% by Steam Electrical Power and 58 % by Agriculture. Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas. There are 196 reservoirs in Texas.

293 water districts have been impacted by the drought in Texas. As of now, only one district has been resolved. A persistent drought interrupted with heavy rainfall has plagued Texas.

Mr. Andrews stressed that a key word for water planning is sustainability. We have to be responsible managers of the resources we use. He recommended reading The Big Thirst by Charles Fishman. The book is about The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. As Charles Fishman writes, “Many civilizations have been crippled or destroyed by an inability to understand water or manage it. We have a huge advantage over the generations of people who have come before us, because we can understand water and we can use it smartly.”

Mr. Andrews explained that the CRMWD (Colorado River Municipal Water District) consists of Big Spring, Odessa and Snyder. The District also has contracts to provide specified quantities of water to the cities of Midland, San Angelo, Stanton, Robert Lee, Grandfalls, Pyote, Abilene (through the West Central Texas Municipal Water District) and the Millersview-Doole Water Supply Corporation.

The CRMWD receives it's water from Lake J.B. Thomas, E.V. Spence Reservoir and O.H. Ivie Reservoir. As of August 6th, Lake J.B. Thomas is 0.76% full; E.V. Spence Reservoir is 0.29% full and O.H. Reservoir is 13.69% full. The CRMWD also operates four well fields for water supply. Two of these fields were developed by the Member Cities prior to 1949. The third field, located in Martin County, began delivering water in 1952. The fourth field, located in Ward County, by Pyote, can supply up to 28 million gallons of water per day. The District primarily uses these wells fields to supplement surface water deliveries during the summer months.

CRMWD is doing research on desalination to help with the water shortage. Desalination refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water. Salt water is desalinated in order to produce fresh water that is suitable for human consumption or irrigation. Most of the modern interest in desalination is focused on developing cost-effective ways of providing fresh water for human use. Along with recycled wastewater, this is one of the few non-rainfall-dependent water sources. Desalination is used in all 50 states.

Large-scale desalination typically uses large amounts of energy and specialized, expensive infrastructure, making it more expensive than fresh water from conventional sources such as rivers or groundwater. Factors that determine the costs for desalination include: capacity and type of facility, location, feed water, labor, energy, financing, and concentrate disposal.

CRMWD has been looking into desalination because Texas sits on a virtual ocean of brackish water. Texas has 2.7 billion acre feet of brackish water. 372.9 million acre feet is under West Texas. Brackish water consists of a mixture of seawater and fresh water. Brackish water is somewhat salty. Which would make it more cost effective to desalinate than seawater. CRMWD is still researching the cost of desalination.

Odessa has received 8 proposals for desalination. They have narrowed the proposals down to four. If Odessa does choose to do desalination, they will have the plant at the Ward County field by Pyote. They will have 46 miles of pipe and a storage tank.

Desalination produces a waste stream, termed the concentrate or brine, it contains the contaminants and TDS rejected by the membrane. Because the concentrate contains contaminants and TDS concentrated by a five- to seven-fold factor over the raw water, its disposal can be problematic.   CRMWD has found two natural salt lakes near the proposed plant where they can potentially dispose of the concentrate disposal.  The concentrate would then evaporate naturally.  With the proper injection well Ward County's fresh water supply will not be effected by desalination at the proposed plant.

If CRMWD does choose desalination, they will also provide water to the Summit project in Penwell. The Summit project is dependent on desalination. They will do desalination whether or not CRMWD does it. The Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP) is a “NowGen” Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) facility that will incorporate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in a first-of-its-kind commercial clean coal power plant.

Mr. Andrews closed by saying, "Be involved like you already are and study the issues. The water shortage is a big issue with legislation this year. Don't just focus on desalination because you might miss other options available. We want to work with Ward County to protect your water supply."

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