Because of higher costs in construction, Walnut Creek Special Utility District is expected to need more money for water infrastructure improvements than originally estimated.
In July, the SUD board of directors approved two resolutions authorizing applications to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for approval to use certain bond funds. One of those resolutions was to fund water system improvement projects not to exceed $25 million.
SUD general manager Doug Carothers said the district was advised to increase the amount on the application to $40 million because of inflated construction costs. Carothers said the district has educated estimates of how much the projects will cost, but the actual cost won’t be known until the projects attract bids. He also said the district doesn’t have to use the entire amount of the bond funds, but there needs to be enough money to cover the whole cost of the projects.
Obtaining this bond funding does not require an election.
The list of projects to be covered by this bond is expansive. Carothers named improvements including water treatment plant improvements like ground storage facilities (tanks), water treatment plant expanded disinfection building, rehabilitation on various tanks, larger pumps in some areas, new towers to maintain proper pressures and flows in certain areas, and new water mains in various areas.
Carothers said the district’s infrastructure is aging, and it needs to be upgraded to support the increased growth in the area.
“We may have too small of water mains in certain areas that won't be able to handle future growth or it's really struggling to handle the increased growth we currently have,” he said. “The pump stations or the towers that need to be put in place so that we make sure people have good, sound, reliable potable water at proper pressures and flows. The same goes back all the way to the water treatment plant, making sure that we're able to treat the water that's needed to be provided.”
Carothers said it will take several years to complete the projects. He also said the district is expected to complete the bond projects without raising rates for customers.
The way the bond process works is that engineers and financial advisers come up with a resolution for the board to sign, and once it has been signed, the resolution is sent to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for approval.
“Part of the approval process is can we afford it. We believe we can without raising any rates on this particular project, which is really cool that the public has had a board that stayed on top of their finances rate as it’s really rare in the nation how good of a job this board has done,” the general manager said. “This board has done an incredible job. It's impressive.”
Carothers said the board approved of the concept of the resolution, but it still needs to be signed sometime in the future. It is unclear when the SUD will hear back from TCEQ. Once TCEQ approves the resolution, the district can move forward with the bond sale.
- Jeff Prince
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