New pipeline means fewer limits on water

Southlake finishes $10.9 million project

Water flowing to Southlake through a new, $10.9 million pipeline should ease restrictions that have squeezed Southlake residents for several years.

While the drought forced restrictions across North Texas in 2011, the City of Southlake also curtailed water use because of its own distribution issues. The city also imposed its own limits in 2008 and 2009.

The extra measures were "primarily due to our inability to distribute water faster than people would use it," said Bob Price, city public works director.

Water had to be pumped at night to the north part of the city and then distributed during the day. With the new, 30-inch T.W. King line, more water will be available over wider periods of time, Price said.

The new line takes water directly to north Southlake. Water destined for that area previously traveled first down a pipe along FM 1709, then was split into pipelines that went north up White Chapel Boulevard, on to Southlake Town Square and on to one of the water storage towers.

The new pipeline took decades to become a reality in part because of the city's longstanding water supply arrangement with Fort Worth and the Tarrant Regional Water District.

Finding a way

Southlake and Westlake get their water from the TRWD through the City of Fort Worth. Grapevine and Colleyville are served by the TRWD through the Trinity River Authority. Grapevine also gets 30 percent of its supply from Lake Grapevine.

Southlake's water comes initially from the Eagle Mountain treatment plant in west Fort Worth, and then is pumped to a station in Fort Worth. From there, it travels through Keller and Westlake before arriving in Southlake.

While the need for a new line has been evident for years, Price said there was a question of whether it should be built and owned by a group of cities thath included Southlake, Fort Worth, Westlake and Trophy Club.

He said an organization representing all the cities was started some 25 years ago to look into the project.

"There was just never any agreement among the parties exactly how it was going to be built," Price said. "When I got here in 2006, I basically started pushing the parties to come to the table and we started looking at what we needed to do."

Engineering studies began and a route was chosen, but it went through the Town of Westlake. Parts of the project were held up while Southlake negotiated with the town for right-of-way.

After starting in 2009, construction of the five-mile line finally was completed in March.

It can accommodate 34.5 million gallons per day, which should be enough to serve the city's water needs until 2025.

Summer 2013

Even with the new line, if the TRWD reservoirs drop this year to 75 percent of their capacity, the area will be under Stage 1 drought restrictions again this summer.

With spring rains, the reservoirs have been at adequate levels lately, but water officials said late last year that restrictions are again a possibility if the summer is dry.

Stage 1 restrictions limit watering to twice a week.

Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate called the water situation in North Texas a crisis.

"We're in trouble here in water and we can't wait 20 years to get lakes built," he said.

He said water supply has not kept pace with rapid population growth.

Tate suggested raising the water level at Lake Grapevine, when he spoke to area chambers of commerce in April.

Brandon Mobley, acting lake manager for the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Grapevine, said raising a lake level is a long process.

The conservation level — the point where the lake is considered full — was set according to the dam's capabilities when it was built in 1952. The Corps would first discuss the feasibility of changing the level and then study whether the dam could handle the additional capacity.

Lake Grapevine was built for flood control, so studies would have to be done on whether the existing shoreline would still be adequate in case of flooding. Officials would have to determine whether more land was available for purchase if needed.

"We do have a strong recreational mission, but public safety is No. 1," Mobley said.

The impacts on habitat, recreational uses such as camping and boating and other factors also would be taken into account.

"Obviously shoreline vegetation would change from semi-dry to being inundated — there would be some loss of shoreline habitat," Mobley said.


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