The city of Weatherford recently reached a milestone that will allow its Reclaimed Water Project to move forward.

The city recently received its discharge permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the project. Weatherford Water Utilities Director Rick Shaffer presented the update to the Municipal Utility Board last week.

“This is a major accomplishment for this project,” Shaffer said. “This, along with the water rights permit that we had already received back in 2018, now gives us the authority to move forward with that project.”

Weatherford Mayor Paul Paschall said past city leaders took critical action in securing water for the future.

“The city has been working for over five years to obtain this permit, and it was one of the last big steps to proceed with the project. With the approval of this permit, the city is now able to proceed with construction of the project. In a direct context, receiving this permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is a major milestone,” Paschall said. “In a larger context, the reclaimed water project itself is a milestone in Weatherford’s water supply, along with construction of Lake Weatherford in the 1950s and the pipeline from Lake Benbrook in the 1990s. Weatherford’s past city leaders had the foresight, and took the necessary action, to develop and secure our current water supplies. This was critical to Weatherford having enough water for our customers during the drought that occurred 2011-2015. This reclaimed water project is one more piece of the puzzle to ensuring a reliable long term water supply for our city.”

In September of 2018, the Weatherford city council decided to move forward with the project, which would pump treated effluent water into Lake Weatherford instead of discharging the treated water to Lake Benbrook. The Reclaimed Water Project would reduce the city’s need to purchase water from Lake Benbrook and supplement water supply to Lake Weatherford.

“Planning for new water supplies generally occurs over decades, not years, and this project is no different. Initial planning for the Reclaimed Water Project began over 15 years ago. Significant process was made after the city hired a consultant, Freese & Nichols, to prepare a preliminary engineering study which was completed in 2014,” Paschall said. “After water is used, it is currently being returned to a water reclamation facility for treatment and disinfection before being discharged into Town Creek. This treatment process is regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Town Creek then flows into the Clear Fork Trinity River, and then into Lake Benbrook.

“The purpose of the project is to supplement the city’s water supply by reclaiming that treated water that is currently being discharged into Town Creek.”

Shaffer said the city has submitted design plans — wastewater treatment facility improvements, a pump station and two pipelines — to the state. The Texas Water Development Board will review the design plans and Shaffer said they can expect approval sometime in the next 45 to 60 days.

“So once we have their approval, we’ll be able to actually award the project for construction,” Shaffer said. “We’re going to go ahead and advertise those three construction projects. We’re setting a tentative bid opening for Aug. 11 — that’s all going to be tentative on when we get the approval from the Texas Water Development Board, so we may have to delay that bid opening to Sept. 1.”

Shaffer said they have acquired 45 of the 52 easements needed and are in the process of gaining the last seven.

If all goes according to plan, Paschall said construction could begin in October with an anticipated completion date of January 2022.

“A reliable water supply is critical for a strong community. The Reclaimed Water Project provides an additional, reliable source of water to better serve the citizens and customers of the City of Weatherford,” Paschall said. “But to truly understand the importance of this project, we need to recognize the situation facing all of North Texas. North Texas is projected to more than double in population over the next 50 years. Having sufficient water supplies is critical to support the projected growth.”

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