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West Texas Water Partnership

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The West Texas Water Partnership (WTWP) is a unique collaborative effort by the cities of Abilene, Midland and San Angelo to address long-term water needs. The WTWP will explore opportunities to maximize local supplies, continue to support conservation and develop new long-term water supplies for the region. 

The best way to offset the drought’s crippling effects and to prepare for growth is to work together develop several long-term cooperative water management strategies to address future water demands, part of which may include bringing more water to the region. No one city can bear the cost of bringing water in alone, and whether the source is groundwater or surface water, many questions and valid concerns will arise, ranging from environmental to the effect on the source and its inhabitants.

To share these burdens and minimize potential impacts to the environment, Abilene, Midland and San Angelo have joined hands as the West Texas Water Partnership (WTWP). This partnership acknowledges water resource development in the region can best be achieved by working together. It eliminates the adverse effects that competing for water would have.

Each city has funded the engineering, legal and organizational needs of an effort to evaluate and develop water management strategies, maximize existing water resources and acquire future groundwater or surface water supplies, if necessary.

May 12, 2020 - West Texas Water Partnership secures long-term source

What began a decade ago as a collaborative effort by the cities of Abilene, Midland and San Angelo to address long-term water needs culminated today with the signing of a multi-generational groundwater supply contract. 

The cities negotiated a 50-year agreement with Fort Stockton Holdings, the owner of substantial groundwater rights in far West Texas, for groundwater pumped from the Edwards-Trinity aquifer.

The aquifer is recognized as one of the most prolific sources of groundwater in Texas, giving the cities access to a supply that is capable of withstanding substantial droughts.

When the three cities started the West Texas Water Partnership (WTWP), there were high hopes that great things could come from the alliance. The charge from the beginning was to turn every stone, take every call and listen to every idea presented to the group that could bridge each city’s individual water supply deficits and provide multi-generational water security for the West Texas region.

"This is a historic and proud day for Abilene, Texas,” Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams said. “Water security has always been a priority for us, as seen with former Mayor Norm Archibald's effort to partner with our neighbors of Midland and San Angelo in the West Texas Water Partnership. Today we have the opportunity to see years of work come to fruition in an agreement that will provide water security for West Texas for generations to come. I am proud to be part of a team that has worked together to provide for our communities in this monumental way."  

“As a city council and mayor, we are excited to be able to invest in this partnership for the long term, critical water needs of our city,” Midland Mayor Patrick Payton said. “The future of our great city is even more promising because of the ability to secure water for growth and opportunity. We are thankful for the hard work, critical and effective negotiations and ultimate conclusion of this stage in the process of water security.”

“In the 1970s, our City leaders worked to secure additional water supply from the Hickory aquifer for the next generations,” San Angelo Mayor Brenda Gunter said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing now with this additional source of water. We are ensuring that there will be a reliable water supply for generations to come.”

The WTWP has considered many options over the past decade and, as a result of the group’s hard work, diligence and patience, they have found in Fort Stockton Holdings a supply of water that meets the fundamental criteria: affordability, quantity, quality, sustainability and reliability.

The Fort Stockton Holdings supply is for 28,400 acre-foot per year. This amount is permitted for export in the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District. The annual volume is being split in a manner that addresses each city’s needs:

  • Midland: 15,000 acre-foot per year
  • Abilene: 8,400 acre-foot per year
  • San Angelo: 5,000 acre-foot per year

Fort Stockton Holdings FAQ

  • Where is Fort Stockton Holdings (FSH) water located? FSH water is located in the Fort Stockton area. FSH owns a groundwater production and transport permit that allows FSH to produce and use 28,400 acre-feet of Edwards-Trinity groundwater each year.

  • Will we own the rights? No, the agreement is for the purchase of untreated groundwater on a take-or-pay basis. The cities will pay for their proportionate share of the total volume.
     
  • How much water is allocated to the City of San Angelo? The total volume contracted with Fort Stockton Holdings is for 28,400 acre-feet per year. This volume will be broken down as follows between the three cities:
    • Midland: 15,000 acre-foot per year
    • Abilene: 8,400 acre-foot per year
    • San Angelo: 5,000 acre-foot per year

      Population, current supplies, and variety of factors drive the allocation between the three cities. One acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons. San Angelo’s annual average water usage is around 14,000 acre-feet.

  • How much are we paying for the water?
    • From the date the contract goes into effect until January 1, 2025, the City will pay $0.30625 per 1,000 gallons. The payment for 2020 will be prorated for the calendar year, for a total of about $489,959 per year.
    • The rate increases to $0.3425 per 1,000 gallons on January 1, 2025 and will remain the same through December 31, 2029, for a total of about $558,020 per year.
    • Beginning January 1, 2030, the rate increases to $0.55 per 1,000 gallons for a total of about $896,090 per year
    • On January 1, 2031, and through the remainder of the contract term, the rate increases by 0.5% of the rate in effect for the previous year.

  • How will the City pay for the water? The City has identified a funding source for the water through the San Angelo Development Corporation. 72% of that corporation’s revenue is restricted for future water supply and that revenue stream could support the cost associated with the payment for 5,000 acre-feet of water.

  • How much will developing this project cost? The engineer’s total project estimate for the wellfield, pipeline, associated transmission infrastructure and treatment facility is $300 million. With the City’s portion of the total volume, this would put the City’s split of the capital infrastructure at $52.8 million. As a comparison to the Hickory groundwater project, the FSH project cost is approximately 29% less based on the capital cost per volume. Operating costs have been projected to be very similar to the operating costs of the Hickory system.

  • Why are we contracting now versus when we need it? As long as drought does not drive this project, the expected timeline for developing this supply is in the range of 2035 to 2040. Similar to the 1970s acquisition of the Hickory groundwater rights, securing these sources happens many years in advance. If the partnership were to wait until a source was needed, there is a high possibility the source would no longer be available to serve the citizens of West Texas.

  • Will we stop pursing the Concho River Water Project? The City of San Angelo is still pursuing the Concho River Water Project. Both projects are an effort to diversify the City’s water portfolio and expand San Angelo’s future water supply to meet the demand of generations to come.