Abilene works on plan to modernize city water systems following February freeze


ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- The events of February 2021 are burned, or maybe frozen into the minds of every Texan. That includes those on the State senate floor who just last June passed Senate Bill 3. Requiring city water systems to remain semi operational during power outages lasting more than 24 hours.

“We found out as we restored our system that we saw a peak summer demand on a freezing cold winter day” Says City of Abilene Water Utilities Director Rodney Taylor.

According to this City of Abilene graphic, these are the requirements as laid out by S.B. 3.

“i guess what we’re looking for from council today is direction. do you want us to pursue any of this?” Said Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna.

As it stands the city believes that it is compliant. Though Lessons learned during the freeze have them considering 3 proposals to reinforce the water system. Of them only one has stood out.

“The modified critical system as it’s been identified with the micro-grid is the most cost effective means of achieving that resiliency and it meets our average daily demands is what I just heard Rodney say.” Says Hanna.

This plan would put a diesel backup generator at the top four proposed “critical water facilities”. And what’s known as a “Self-sufficient natural gas powered micro-grid” at the northeast plant and pump station. So that each could run for a set number of days without city provided power. and the northeast plant and pump station could run independently if all others fail.

But no matter the plan chosen. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will have final say on Abilene’s water infrastructure.

“We believe we’re compliant but we don’t hold the destiny in our hands. our destiny is determined by a governmental agency that says you meet the requirements or you don’t” Says Hannah.

For now the Council has decided to defer action until the TCEQ can evaluate the city’s water system status. though they know change is likely on the horizon.

“If you have an opportunity to harden your system and make it more resilient you take that opportunity.” Hanna Said.

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