Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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March 8, 2008

Power and water linked

Planning for future water use with presence of power plants is key

Town Hall meeting

The City of Corsicana is hosting a public meeting to answer questions about the proposed power plants at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Palace Theatre, 112 W. Sixth Avenue.

What’s at stake with the sale of water to two proposed power plants is whether or not there will be another drought.

If the county doesn’t have another drought for another 40 years — roughly the span between the 1950s drought and the 2006 drought — then the city will get a water line, a second treatment plant, and a plentiful source of water, all heavily subsidized by industry. However, if there is another drought, the city has to hope it has built enough safety netting into the contract so the county doesn’t run dry.

The City of Corsicana provides water to 99 percent of the county from two sources — Lake Halbert and Navarro Mills. A third source, Richland Chambers, is not currently being used, although the city is building a pipeline out to that lake now.

Based on regular, non-drought use, the city has enough water to supply the county and the proposed new power plants for another 30 years, according to future estimates of water needs by the city, and the estimated water use of the plants.

The city is currently pumping about 7 million gallons of water a day. If both power plants are built, the plants will need between 10 million and 16 million gallons a day, depending on a variety of factors but mostly on how much they’re running. Early estimates are that they will return 20-25 percent of that water to the lake.

The city has water rights to 32,807 acre feet of water each year, or 29 million gallons a day already, with the option to buy more from Richland Chambers Reservoir, according to City Manager Connie Standridge.

The city’s eagerness to sell water to the power plants stems from pragmatism, Standridge said. Corsicana can’t control whether or not the plants come, only whether or not to sell the water. If the city does sell the water to the plants, it could settle some enormous and fast-growing debts faster, she said.

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