In Texas growth and development are directly linked to an ability to supply water to homes and industry.

The Midlothian City Council was told of plans to build a new water plant on U.S. Highway 287 west of town last week. The facility is expected to carry a $33.3 million price tag and will need to be online by 2010 to meet city water demands.

“We do have some time before we need this plant,” said City Engineer Mike Adams. “It will take some time to design and construct so we need to work on a plan and that is why I’m before you tonight.”

Adams turned the meeting over to Bryant Caswell, of Schrickel, Rollins & Associates Engineering.

Caswell said he looked at expanding the city’s water plant north of town but felt building a second plant at a new location would add security and redundancy to the system.

“We looked at how big a plant you needed, where would be the best location, what kind of technology was best to treat Midlothian’s drinking water and, of course, how much it might cost,” said Caswell.

Midlothian currently has the capacity to treat 13 million gallons of water a day and Caswell suggested building a two-phase plant that would initially provide an additional 9 million gallons of water a day. The second phase would top out the plant at 18 million gallons a day.

“We are proposing a facility on the west side of the escarpment,” said Caswell. “You need a 30- to 60-acre site and we have found a location along U.S. 287 that is also adjacent to the Trinity River Authority pipeline.”

Caswell pointed out Midlothian currently has a water treatment plant that uses granular activated carbon technology to purify its water. Caswell said Mansfield has just installed a membrane purification process that appears to be working well. He said Waxahachie also has a new membrane purification plant that they are very pleased with.

“We have estimated the cost at $32.57 million,” said Caswell. “There are state and federal grants that can be sought to assist in funding and of course bonds are traditionally used to finance these projects.”

The Midlothian city council was told in March 2006 that it could reach its capacity to treat water as early at 2008. A wet spring has helped curtail water demand this year. Midlothian did issue a voluntary water conservation plea during last summer’s drought, but never implemented a mandatory water-rationing program. Placing a moratorium on new development water connections is another alternative to hold down water demand.

It has been estimated it will take about two years to engineer, build and bring a new water plant online.

Midlothian currently pumps water from Joe Pool Lake to its water treatment plant on Tayman Road. The city also has water rights with Trinity River Authority and can draw water from massive pipelines that basically parallel U.S. Highway 287.

Midlothian water is treated with alum to pull particles from the water. The water is also given a shot of chlorine to disinfect it. Ammonia is added to provide longer term disinfection as the water leaves the plant.

Midlothian does not ad fluoride to its water.

The Midlothian Water Treatment Plant earned the Texas Optimization Award for water quality for the first time in the summer of 2002 and received consecutive superior ratings every six months since for four years. The plant failed a test this winter.

“That doesn’t mean anything was ever wrong with our water,” said Ben Wilson, Midlothian Water Treatment Plant Manager. “We missed a test by 1/400th of a percent. Let me assure you that Midlothian water quality ranks in the top 1 percent in the state.”

State water quality officials have repeatedly said Midlothian’s tap water is cleaner than most bottled water.