In 2006, the city entered an agreement with the Brazos River Authority for 10,000 acre-feet of raw water per fiscal year for municipal purposes, said Glenn Dishong, Georgetown Utility Systems utility director. The contract expires in 2041 but is generally auto-renewed, he said. An acre-foot is the amount of water it would take to cover 1 acre 1 foot deep.
“Typically, when water is available, entities contract for the water via long-term contracts,” Dishong said. “There isn’t a market for water in the state, so the only real way to get water with any certainty is that you contract for the water for the long term.”
The city looks at future growth projections to determine how much water will be needed, Dishong said. According to city data, the city will not need to touch the 10,000 acre-feet of water until about 2033, but that time is extended to about 2040 if the city achieves its water conservation plan.
Since the city is not using water it is paying for, Dishong said selling the excess water to Blanchard would allow the city to make money off the water.
The revenue from the sale of the excess water will exceed the cost of the water by 25%, resulting in net revenue for the water fund in the amount of $197,500 for the next fiscal year, which will increase annually with the BRA system rate until the agreement with the refinery expires in 2029, city documents state.
This, Dishong said, would relieve the pressure on rising city water rates. It will not, however, directly lower rates, he said.
The contract is for 10 years, but there is an option in which the city can take back the water from the refinery in years nine and 10, if needed, Dishong said.
Dishong added that while the city does not need the excess water currently, it also does not have direct access to it.
The city has an intake line at Lake Stillhouse Hollow, but the 10,000 acre-feet of water is contracted out of Lake Belton, and the BRA has not completed the construction of a pipeline between the two lakes, Dishong said.
Dishong added that if the city needed to access the 10,000 acre-feet of water, the BRA would be obligated to get the city the water however it can.
“Water is a constrained resource, and when it’s available, municipalities need to acquire it for future growth,” Dishong said. “An opportunity like this, to be able to sell some of our unused resource for a period of time, eases the pressures on rates that are put on by growth.”