By JUDY SHERIDAN
The Annetta City Council discussed the Jan. 17 report from the Annetta Water Advisory Committee as well as long-term water plans in last week’s council session.
At issue is the question of when the City of Annetta will assume control of its water and sewer systems, now managed by the City of Hudson Oaks.
The current contract expires later this year, but there is a two-year extension offer.
In the workshop, Sheridan sided with the advisory committee’s recommendation to extend the city’s contract with Hudson Oaks.
“We are still learning a lot in numbers and management and need to remain in our current contract … and also extend our contract for two more years to help us maintain what we have so far and give us a chance to learn more how to operate this system,” he said.
Two members of the advisory committee — Traci Fambrough and chair Dennis Thompson, who recently led annexation efforts to add Deer Creek water system users to the city — were removed the same night the committee submitted the list of recommendations.
Council members Larry Wood, Bruce Moore and Farrar Patterson voted in favor of dismissing Thompson and Fambrough; council members Chuck Sheridan and Richard Machak were opposed.
Mayor Bruce Pinckard said Tuesday that he would contact alternates who were not initially selected to serve and ask if they would like to fill the two vacancies.
Machak said he wants Hudson Oaks to provide a maintenance program schedule, so Annetta city officials can predict water system expenditures. He stressed the need for a new well, which the report said would be difficult to have operational by summer.
“It’s my opinion that we should be actively pitching a location for this well and getting it drilled and getting in online,” Machak said. “Then we can see if the system is making a profit and maybe come back and cut some of the base cost out of the water bills.”
Wood pointed out that the water storage tanks are plumbed in series and currently can’t be isolated when one needs to be repaired, causing the whole plant to go down when a leak is fixed.
He said he would like to discuss a bid from an independent contractor who uses a camera to scout out problems as an alternative to waiting to see if a tank leaks.
A tank at one of the well sites is leaking, Machak said, which could result in several weeks of water restrictions while repairs are being made.
He talked about constructing a mobile pipe system that could be hooked up to the tanks so two could function while the other is repaired.
Patterson suggested running a pipe with cutoff valves between the tanks.
Pinckard talked about the obstacles to drilling a municipal well: finding a location that complies with state regulations, the financial challenge of purchasing easements and pipelines and meeting production requirements.
“Most of the locations needed are outside of the city limits,” he said, pointing out that the Upper Trinity Groundwater District requires that wells be generously spaced to ensure full volume.
He said the city has no control over wells drilled beyond its boundaries, but the spacing requirement will further limit Annetta’s options.
The council should consider buying surface water as a long-range solution, Pinckard said.
“Weatherford buys raw water from Fort Worth and Benbrook and treats it at their facility, where I understand they have additional capacity to treat more water to sell,” he said. “They’re our closest neighbor, and it would be the cheapest way to purchase treated water.”
A citizen attending the meeting said he supported Hudson Oaks continuing to manage the water and sewer systems, noting the water advisory committee’s prediction that the system would generate a $73,700 profit in FY 2013, versus a loss of $4,000 if Annetta assumed management.
Machak, however, said he wasn’t sure he understood all the costs. He asked what people dedicated to working on the water and sewer system do.
“The sewer superintendent was hired by Hudson Oaks only because of the contract we have with Hudson Oaks,” Pinckard said, “and he’s full time on the sewer system, which is why in the entire time we’ve owned it, the complaints have gone to nothing, and the response and the ability of the plant to operate efficiently have far surpassed what the previous owner established.”
Wood and others asked for an explanation of the software costs listed in a summary report of actual and projected water and sewer system operations.
“I think everybody will agree that Hudson Oaks ran the system in 2012,” Wood said, “and we spent $80,000 on SCADA. So, if in fact, that was for half the system or part of the system or an ongoing cost associated with the system, I would think that either both of us would have it as ongoing, or neither one of us would, because we’ve already paid it. It’s a big number.”
Pinckard said he would ask for more details.
The mayor also gave council members estimates for two different office trailers that could be used for the administration of the water system.
He said the council would discuss the comparison later.