Sunday, February 24, 2013

Twin Buttes Deja Vu

Twin Buttes Reservoir storage is roughly the same as last June, when City Council authorized pumping of the South Pool.  This might be a surprise to the public, given the significant runoff from the September 28, 2012 rain event. 

It's pretty much gone.  It appears Twin Buttes is the primary water source for the City this winter. Lake Nasworthy is much higher than last summer. 

The City has water rights for Lake Ivie, now with 121,700 acre feet, and Spence Reservoir which holds 27,700 acre feet.  While the overall water picture is not as bleak, Twin Buttes situation is as bad as June 2012.  That's a startling find.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Equalization Channel to Flow Soon?

Twin Buttes South Pool refilled to the point it soon will flow into the Equalization Channel.  I stood in the dry part of the EQ to take the pictures seen above and below.

The South Pool is slightly higher than it was last summer when the City started pumping.

The South Pool supplied much of San Angelo's daily water needs from August into September.  This year pumping appears to be convenience pumping.  Lake Ivie took on a huge amount last year, as did the North Pool.

City Council went light on Interim Water Chief Ricky Dickson when they discussed 2013 South Pool pumping.  Earlier in the meeting Mayor New asked him how many years he'd had with the city.  New didn't ask Ricky if he was an engineer, a requirement in the Water Chief's job description.

Surprisingly, Ricky showed up with no financial projections on South Pool pumping.  His Council packet submission stated:

Financial Impact:  (Unknown at this time)

Besides not presenting the most basic information on estimated project costs, Ricky was unaware of a study done on the amount of water pumped vs. the amount that physically flowed into the North Pool.  The difference being the amount of water lost to seepage, thirsty vegetation and evaporation.

Hint to Ricky:  If you want the job, familiarize yourself with past City Council presentations on the topic, especially those in the last year.  And show up with something other than your notes on project costs.  Council should demand it.  It's the public's right to know. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Return of Gajeske

San Angelo's City Council approved the return of Gajeske's pumps to Twin Buttes South Pool.

The motion was for water department staff be ready to begin pumping no later than June 15, but authorized to start earlier if circumstances call for it. The motion passed without objection 

The discussion turned to minimizing water loss, which means pumping long before June 15.  Interim Water Chief Ricky Dickson responded to concerns about water loss to seepage and evaporation. 

Dickson also said he was not aware of any of the measurements Alexander was referring to taken last year.
Ricky needed only to look at an August 2012 presentation to City Council on the matter. 

San Angelo deserves a qualified, ethical leader for its water department.  Dickson lacks the professional engineer qualification required by the job description.  .His ninety day interim period nears an end.  With no movement toward recruitment or interviewing, even internal candidates, it seems it's Dickson's job to lose.  For someone trying to play the part, I expect Ricky to have done his homework. 

Update 2-10-13:  Rumor has it Dickson had business cards printed without the "Interim" title Council found so humorous.  Two items Dickson presented concerned me.  He shared information on the cost of extending South Pool piping another mile.  This is temporary PVC pipe the city rents from Gajeske.  It is not more permanent pipe installed in the ground.  The other related to street surface repairs after the water department repairs a broken pipe.  The city has long used an outside contractor for this service. Managerially, this is a "make or buy" decision.  Given Ricky's former position, he's in a perfect position to show Council the costs for the city to perform this function vs. the City's experience with a private contractor and their current proposal.  He did none of the aforementioned.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

South Pool Pumping on Council Agenda

San Angelo City Council will take up pumping water from the South Pool into the North Pool at Twin Buttes Reservoir.

14.  Discussion of and possible action related to the transfer of water from the south pool to the north pool for the City’s use of water at Twin Buttes Reservoir.  (Presentation by Interim Water Utilities Director Ricky Dickson)

The reason for pumping last year was the city's critical need for water.  Today, the North Pool is five feet above the level needed to push water through the dam.  There isn't a critical need.  However, the city does has rented huge PVC pipes for the last four months.

The decision will be to keep renting pipe and bring back the pumps or have Gajeske remove the remnants of last year's pumping operation completely.  Yet, this is not the way Interim Water Chief Ricky Dickson chose to present the situation:

Financial Impact: (Unknown at this time)

What?  The City knows how much pump rental cost last year.  When the city had Gajeske pull their pumps did they not agree on a re-installation fee and monthly rate for 2013?

Other Information/Recommendation: Flow of water from the South Pool through the equalization channel to the North Pool in Twin Buttes has stopped. At the current time, the water level in the North Pool is 5 feet above dead storage which is elevation of 1885. The total content of the Reservoir is at approximately 12,790 feet. It is recommended the notice to proceed be issued to Gajeske for re-delivery of the pumping system prior to August 2013 (as requested by Councilman Alexander).
Former Water Chief Will Wilde expected the South Pool to reach a level where it would begin to naturally flow into the North Pool around the end of February/early March of 2013.  This prediction, if supported by current South Concho River flow and South Pool lake levels should be presented.

A former reason for consolidating the pools was to save on evaporation during our hot, dry summer months.  With language of August 2013 it seems the City could be pumping during the worst time of year for water loss.  Last year, the city had no choice.  This year, it may.  Pray for rain.