The History of Water Conservation
Back in 1998, the City of Abilene had two water supplies – Lake Fort Phantom Hill and Hubbard Creek Reservoir. On one particularly hot day in July, in the midst of a drought, we experienced the highest water consumption in our City’s history. Residents and businesses used 47 million gallons of water in a single day - nearly maxing out our production capacity.
That day was a wake-up call for our city leaders, who immediately went to work on a plan to prevent the city from running out of its most precious natural resource. That strategy had three primary components:
- The purchase of the water from a third reservoir, Lake O.H. Ivie, to our south.
- Development of a new reclaimed water use program that provided treated wastewater effluent to large irrigation customers, such as golf courses, parks, and universities, which previously used drinking water to nourish their green spaces.
- The creation of our current water conservation plan – based on best practices and developed in cooperation with master gardeners, landscape professionals, and city staff – that enables residents to save millions of gallons of water every year.
These measures have helped Abilene save billions of gallons of water. In 2011, we had the single worst climate year in our history in terms of high temperatures and drought. While Abilene’s population was larger than in 1998, only 37 million gallons of water were used on our peak day. Not only that, but for the year, the city used 1 billion fewer gallons than we did in 1998.
Today, the Big Country continues to face new, ongoing drought conditions. The City of Abilene is once again taking a leadership role to provide additional water supplies to the region. Our strategy includes projects to provide additional water now, over the next few years (as conditions require), and for future generations to come. Recent and current projects include:
- An expansion of our reclaimed water use program constructed a brand new, state-of-the-art Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility to take an average of 7 MGD (Million Gallons per Day) of the existing treated wastewater effluent and provide additional treatment, to include reverse osmosis. It is being released back into Lake Fort Phantom Hill where it will undergo nature’s biological treatment process and add to our water supplies.
- The City of Abilene is making arrangements to purchase additional water supplies from Possum Kingdom Reservoir. This project includes the necessary pipeline and treatment facilities to respond to changing drought conditions into the foreseeable future.
- An expansion of the City’s water treatment facilities for Lake O.H. Ivie is increasing the total production capacity of the Hargesheimer Water Treatment Plant. This will make the treatment plant more efficient and allow for the treatment of more water from this vital water supply source.
- Finally, the City of Abilene is diligently working to acquire the necessary State and Federal permits to construct a new reservoir on the Brazos River. Cedar Ridge Reservoir is being proposed northwest of Albany and will provide new water supplies to the entire region. Once permitted and constructed, Cedar Ridge will provide new water supplies to the region for generations to come.
Thanks to the support of Abilene residents and businesses, we are proud of how our city continues to adapt to drought conditions, a growing population, and increasing demands on our water supply.