The City of Abilene continues to explore ways to provide a stable water source for residents for the future.
Cedar Ridge Reservoir is one of the city’s answers to anticipated water shortages. Cedar Ridge is expected to cost up to $285 million but will not be completed for many years.
The Texas Conservation Alliance, a group devoted to protecting Texas’ water resources, looked at cost effective ways for cities to recycle the water they use.
The executive director of the organization, Janice Bezanson, thinks Cedar Ridge is not the best option.
“Water could be brought from the Clear Fork of the Brazos River and stored in Hubbard Creek Reservoir; the Clear Fork is where Cedar Ridge would be built, if it is built, instead of building the reservoir, you just put an intake structure and when there’s water in the river, you bring it over to Hubbard Creek Lake and store it there, you can save lots of money,” said Bezanson.
The City of Abilene is already recycling water for irrigation purposes and has been for many years. Abilene is also upgrading the Hamby Water Treatment Plant.
For the first time, treated, effluent water will be pumped back into Lake Fort Phantom, which should begin by January 2015.
City leaders still feel that Cedar Ridge is the best move.
"We feel like we have vetted very carefully, and very cautiously and very thoroughly, future water supplies for Abilene and that Cedar Ridge provides the water and quality we need,” said Tommy O’Brien, the Director of Water Utilities for the City of Abilene. “We feel like the environmental impact will be minimal and it's just really in our opinion what is best for Abilene.
Bezanson and her organization say a new water reservoir is not the most cost effective alternative.
“What Texas Conservation Alliance is saying to the city is, you should be doing the lowest cost options for water supplies, and that is not Cedar Ridge Reservoir,” said Bezanson.
However, Cedar Ridge is one of Mayor Norm Archibald’s top priorities.
“I could see Cedar Ridge up and running in the next 10 years. I mean, the sooner you have the opportunity to catch water, the more you have an opportunity to impound in a reservoir,” said Mayor Archibald. “So we think Cedar Ridge is an answer to our future with water.”
For the Cedar Ridge Reservoir to be built, there are two major permits that need to be obtained. The first permit is from the state for the rights to the water. The second permit is from the Army Corps of Engineers for permission to actually build the dam.