City of Wolfforth gets more time to find water

It was just over a year ago that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to the city of Wolfforth warning it to clean up its water.

The July 19, 2011, letter required a response from the city within 90 days, and gave the city a deadline of 18 months for fixing its arsenic issues.

Last fall, City Manager Darrell Newsom said the city had three possible options to solve the problem. Wolfforth could use water from fields between Ropseville and Wolfforth to blend into Wolfforth’s water to dilute the amount of arsenic in the water at a cost of $5-6 million. The city could invest an estimated $2 million in an electrodialysis reversal system to filter the water. Or the city could combine both of those options.

But Newsom said this week that the Ropesville water, while having a lower amount of arsenic, still had too much arsenic in it for Wolfforth to be able to simply blend and dilute its own water.

The city sent its response letter to the EPA in the fall, and sent a proposal for an electrodialysis pilot program to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, as of March 9.

Newsom told Wolfforth City Council members two weeks ago that he hoped to hear back from TCEQ about the city’s proposal within two weeks, but he said he has recently received an email from them stating it will be another few weeks.

“The EPA at least gave us some relief on time because we have to have anything we do approved by TCEQ,” Newsom said.

Once the city hears from TCEQ, it then has to go back to the EPA and make sure it is on board with the project and timeline.

One project the city will have to do regardless of TCEQ’s opinion on the electrodialysis reversal system is to tie the city’s 16 producing wells together, and Newsom said that is a step the city engineering firm, OJD Engineering, and the city’s public works department will have to start working on in the next few weeks.

“We’re going to have to get a time frame on tying those wells together. We’re going to have to do that no matter what,” Newsom said. “We can actually start that work probably as soon as we can get the money together. … We’ve never had problems borrowing money and getting things funded.”

Newsom said any improvements to the city’s water will come with a cost to city residents.

“What that’s going to come down to, is obligating either fees or water increases” to make sure the improvements are paid for, he said.

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