Buda waits for Lege on aquifer storage

High costs associated with an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) pilot study, along with wanting to monitor legislation, led to Buda city leaders’ inaction on an agenda item on the topic Tuesday, said Buda Mayor Todd Ruge.

The decision to table the item came after the Buda City Council received a presentation from Buda Water Specialist Brian Lillibridge and James Dwyer, a representative with CH2M, a construction and engineering firm, on the city’s ASR feasibility study.

Results of the study identified the Middle Trinity Aquifer as the ideal storage zone for Buda’s stored potable water supply. However, Dwyer, who was the administrator of the study, saidthere would be a problem because of Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) regulations.

BSEACD rules state water passing through the Edwards Aquifer can only be comprised of untreated Edwards water.

This means that the city could not store water from Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) or Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA).

A bill filed during the 85th Texas Legislature could make ASR technology more affordable for Buda by bypassing some of the current restrictions, if it’s passed.

“If it passes we have a lot more options,” Ruge said. “If it fails, we have to readdress how to mitigate future water demands.”

Even if the city adopts ASR as a water storage measure, it is not a stand-alone solution, but only offers flexibility, Lillibridge said.

He added the next step in the process would be to consider funding an ASR pilot study in fiscal year 2017-2018.

Another hurdle would be to work with the BSEACD to define project regulations and refine costs.

Lillibridge said in order for ASR to be feasible for Buda, there would have to be changes to rules enabling storage of other sources of potable water, which he added are already underway.

Lillibridge told council members that the key to having water in the future is to try and conserve as much as can be saved now.

“We possibly need to look at stricter conservation ordinances,” Lillibridge said.

Lillibridge told council that BSEACD has shown interest in ASR technology, but wants to make sure it doesn’t pose any danger to the Trinity Aquifer water supply before it lifts restrictions.

“The ability for the city to store our potable drinking water, no matter the source, makes ASR more appealing,” Lillibridge said regarding the feasibility of ASR if BSEACD were to change its restrictions.

It is unknown when additional discussion on future steps toward ASR technology will be brought to council.

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