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Water issues dominate city council meeting

By: Dolores Hamilton
The lingering drought and shortage of water continues to be a concern, and is the major topic of business for many municipal meetings.

Monday night the Iowa Park City Council discussed options for finding alternative water sources to reduce the demand for water purchased from Wichita Falls.

Currently Iowa Park, along with several area towns, purchases all of its water from Wichita Falls. At the first of the week, Wichita Falls' two primary water reservoirs, Lakes Kickapoo and Arrowhead, had a combined capacity of 39.1 percent.

The first week in February the combined capacity had dropped to 40 percent, prompting the City of Wichita Falls to enact Stage 3 Drought Emergency Restrictions. Iowa Park and the other wholesale water customers dependent on Wichita Falls followed suit and put similar restrictions in place. Iowa Park residents were asked to meet a 35 percent reduction in water use. Stage 4 Drought Disaster plans would be triggered if the combined capacity of Lakes Kickapoo and Arrowhead reaches 30 percent of storage.

City Manager Mike Price told the council that the City of Wichita Falls is proposing to take water from their wastewater treatment plant to their reverse osmosis plant for treatment, mix it in with lake water on a 50/50 basis and continuing until the lakes get back up to 50 percent capacity. This would make an additional 5-million gallons of water a day available to their water customers.

Price said Wichita Falls is asking their wholesale water customers that have other means if they could step up local production to cut down the amount of water needed from them.

Iowa Park has three city lakes, and the council discussed their condition and how much water is available in each. While discussing the options that could be taken, Price suggested, "We could consider picking up the reverse osmosis plant from Electra, setting it up here in town, treating water from the lakes, and supplement the water we get from Wichita Falls." He said Electra would sell Iowa Park their $1.8-million reverse osmosis plant for $180,000. "Electra agreed to let Iowa Park pay this out over a 10-year period, with it being taken off their water bill." It would cost the city $250,000 to move the plant and set it up here.

After discussing the amount of water in the lakes, possibly revamping the wastewater treatment plant, and drilling water wells, Price offered another scenario. "How would you feel about partnering with Electra?" he asked. "They give us the reverse osmosis plant, we pay $250,000 for getting it relocated, set up and operational, and guaranteeing Electra a reduced rate on a percentage of the 500,000 gallons a day that would be produced as long as the lakes hold up."

The general consensus of the council was for Price to move ahead in the discussion with Electra.

The city staff has been working with a representative from RevTrak, Inc. about an online credit card system that would allow the city's water customers to use a credit card to pay their utility bills online. City Secretary Janice Newman and Director of Finance Becky Ferguson described the program to council members, saying it could also be used to pay for permits and municipal court costs. The council voted to authorize the city manager to execute an agreement with the firm to start the service.

Price told the council that he was told about several leaks along the roof line of the RAC. He had a roofing contractor look at it who recommended having the roof rubber coated. The cost would be $8,500. The council told Price to see if that amount includes a warranty, and then bring it back to the council for a vote.

In other business the Iowa Park Police Department was given permission to conduct a burn-out event in the 800 block of North 4th St. in conjunction with the Taillights and Tailgates Cruise to be held May 3. The council also accepted notice of payment for tires for the police department's Chevy Cobalt, utilizing the department's Asset Forfeiture Fund.