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Pilot Point mulls pipeline project

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

PILOT POINT — More than 20 miles of water and sewer lines that stretch underneath Pilot Point must be replaced and it could take nearly $6 million and another water rate increase to complete, according to city staff.

Officials blame the aging water and sewer lines for about one quarter of the city’s water loss. The length of lines to be replaced is equal to the driving distance between Pilot Point and Argyle, staff said.

Officials also say they hope to replace about one mile of pipe each year.

“Replacing water and sewer lines has been one of our major goals. We finally have our finances in a way we can start doing some capital improvements,” Mayor Pete Hollar said.

During a Monday council meeting, the city manager presented two options to pay for the pipeline project.

The first option is to issue $5.8 million in certificates of obligation and pay for the work all at once.

According to City Manager Tom Adams, incurring the debt would require a 52 percent water rate increase to cover the project.

Staff members said the advantages of the first option is the work is completed quicker and savings happen immediately with water and electrical pumping costs.

But officials said the disadvantage is the higher cost because of incurred interest and the need to hire contractors.

The second option breaks down the project into smaller chunks, reducing the costs, he said.

It would not require issuing debt and officials would replace a mile a year at an approximate cost of $283,000 annually for 20 years. The second option would require about a 35 percent water rate increase.

The advantage of the second option is that the project has a lower annual cost and officials would also be able to control the pace of the construction, Adams said.

Based on a water report performed for the North Texas Groundwater Conservation District, which serves as a monthly water audit, about 25 percent of the city’s water is lost monthly.

“We would see an immediate savings in the amount we pay the North Texas Groundwater Conservation District,” Adams said. “We have to pay them a fee or tax for groundwater we pump from the wells. We would also be saving and conserving the groundwater. This also has a value.”

Adams also said the improvements will extend the life expectancy of some city equipment. He estimates the city could save $30,000 to $40,000 a year from the improvements.

On Monday, the council instructed Adams to look at a plan for replacing water lines in-house rather than contracting the job externally.

“It will require purchasing some new equipment and hiring new personnel, but we can proceed at our own pace,” Hollar said.

“In the process, we will be replacing outdated lines that run down the middle of streets with new lines installed on the sides of streets,” he said.

By placing the pipelines on the sides of the streets, the city will no longer have to tear open a road to make repairs to water and sewer leaks.

The two plans presented by Adams are not definite. He said the plans may change as more research is completed.

There’s also an option for a 30-, 40- or a 60-year plan, which would mean lines would be replaced every two to three years instead, city staff said.

City officials refer to the project as a “major undertaking,” which will require a significant financial investment and careful consideration.

Residents and business owners have already had an increase in their monthly water bills after city officials unanimously agreed to amend an ordinance, raising rates to repay bonds slated for city improvements.

In March, city officials approved a 7.2 percent increase to the water rates and a 2.1 percent increase to the sewer rates to help repay $1.1 million the city will use to pay for street and sidewalk improvements, historical preservation projects and park improvements.

JOHN D.HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.