Buda eyes new water source with pilot program

To mitigate stress on Buda’s water supply during the dry summer months, the city is looking into building a pilot well for an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system.

The proposed ASR project would inject groundwater into the Trinity Aquifer and store it for later use. A pilot well would be drilled and tested prior to building the ASR system, to make sure the well site would be viable.

At a July 3 city council meeting, the city’s Water Resources Coordinator, Blake Neffendorf, said the ASR would be advantageous to the city in two cases.

“One is to try to meet seasonal peak demand. So in the summer months when we have higher usage, we can kind of rely on some of that, the other method is what we call our drought demand,” Neffendorf said.

In the case of a lengthy drought, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD), from which the city gets its water, could curtail water supplies anywhere from 10 percent up to 40 or 50 percent of its permitted amount, according to Neffendorf.

“So as a way to kind of increase our supplies, or smooth out those drought periods, ASR is looked at as a solution to that issue,” Neffendorf said.

Buda’s water production was 57 million gallons in July 2017 and the winter average was around 28 million gallons, according to city documents.

BE INFORMED: Check out the possible ASR well sites here

City officials began looking into using an ASR system in 2015 and had a consultant perform a feasibility study in 2016. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, the city’s budget included $1,896,000 in funding for a pilot well study which would test out a site for a future ASR.

During the meeting, three well sites, Triangle, Site 4 and Site 5, were presented by Neffendorf as potential ASR sites.

Site 5, located near Whispering Hollow subdivision, was recommended to council as the best site due to its long term water supply availability, easy acquisition, surplus of space, among other scoring categories. According to the city, tree removal and proximity to the subdivision were disadvantages of Site 5.

Additionally, Site 5 is designated as parkland and would require a Chapter 26 public hearing in order to redesignate the property for city use.

Due to several of the Site 5 disadvantages, council felt it needed more information, and would consider studying further sites, before making a final decision on a pilot well site.

Each location was identified as a viable site because the land was either already owned by the city or easily acquirable and had access to the Trinity Aquifer.

The Triangle site, located near Old Black Colony Road and FM 1626, has issues with space constraints and is potentially harder to acquire, according to the city. Site 4 is located near Dahlstrom Middle School and the Hays Communities YMCA, although there is a YMCA community garden on the spot where the well would go.

Once a site is identified, Neffendorf says he hopes to begin drilling the pilot well in December 2018 or in early 2019.

The city will then perform cycle testing by injecting water into the Trinity Aquifer and pull it back out after several days to test water quality and quantity. Neffendorf said the city will probably perform three cycle-tests during the year.

If testing is successful, then the city can move forward with the ASR sometime in 2020.

If the project works out, Buda would join Kerrville and San Antonio as cities that use ASR.

The neighborhood of Ruby Ranch outside of Buda has also done some pilot well work for possible ASR development.

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