Water main topic at community meeting in Thorndale

By Lindsey Vaculin

General Manager


Over 60 Thorndale citizens gathered at the Thorndale Senior Center on June 6 for a public meeting concerning Thorndale’s water issues.

“In 2005 we were cited by TCEQ for having insufficient minimum water capacity requirements,” Thorndale City Manager Keith Keisling said. “At the time we were only one or two points deficient. Now we are past that.”

Keisling said the city has never had a problem having enough water to meet its demands. But, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality requires you to have .6 gallons per minute per connection of water. 

“We are in the neighborhood of having 640 meters,” he said. “We currently have a contract with Southwest Milam for 250 gallons a minute. When it was done in March of 1990 it was very favorable to the City of Thorndale. That line is at capacity right now, so we can’t just say give us some more water. We would need to tap into another line.”

In 2010 the city was granted a variance for not having the minimum capacity requirement, but Keisling said the TCEQ will not likely lower the standard again and if they were to remove that variance the city would really be in a mess.

“We have been bouncing around ideas for 10 years in the council to correct this,” Keisling said. “We are searching our options. I currently have a request in to Southwest Milam to see if they can offer us some more capacity to see if they can get us 400 gallons a minute. That will give us room for growth. That should have a response by the end of the month. I have tried to get in touch with the Brazos River Authority about Lake Granger, but no response.”

City engineer Grant Lishka said that TECQ requires that the city have 380 gallons per minute. The current contract is for 250 gallons per minute. The maximum usage that Thorndale has used in a day is 267,000 gallons per day. That comes out to an average of 185 gallons per minute.

“As far as having enough water, the 250 gallons coming from Southwest Milam is adequate for the city right now, but that doesn’t meet the requirement from TCEQ,” he said. “So really what this is boiling down to is the rules from TCEQ.” 

Lishka said they have looked at growth population predictions from the Water Development Board. The projected population is 1,562 in 2040. Which would bring current connection account to about 750. That is a total requirement of 450 gallons per minute.

“TCEQ is looking at making sure you aren’t on the edge so that if something happens or a big population growth comes you have the ability to serve that,” he said. “The current contract the city has is advantageous because the city currently only pays for what they use. If they need to supply more water to the city, then they may need to upgrade their lines and that would need to be passed on to the city. Our best bet is to get more capacity from Southwest Milam.”

Keisling said he is waiting for what Southwest Milam offers. 

“At the rate we are paying now that would be an additional $160,000 a year for water we don’t even use,” he said. “That is why we are looking at maybe taking that money and spending it on our own project. In the long run in hurts us now, but could be a very good move. We haven’t settled on anything now.”

Keisling said the city is looking into drilling a well for the extra capacity in the event that the offer from Southwest Milam is not advantageous to the city.

“What we are looking at is getting us to the capacity that we need to be for TCEQ,” he said. 

A community member asked how much more each resident would be paying on his or her bill.

Lishka said there isn’t an answer to that now, because of the potential for grants and loans and not knowing what they are planning on doing. It could be upwards of $20 more.

He said there are trade offs between purchasing the water and producing it itself and that the city needs to look at what is best for them.

Keisling said he is waiting to see what the offer from Southwest Milam is and how much it will cost to put in connecting lines. He said the city shouldn’t have to add additional storage facilities with the new capacity. They current storage satisfies that capacity.

Lishka said a well would have to be dug southeast of town about 10 miles out. The well would provide approximately 150 gallons per minute. That added to the Southwest Milam capacity would get the city in compliance. It would be supplemental.

Keisling said the city will host another community meeting in the next few months after they have a better idea of what they are going to do.