Denison sets new drought contingency plan

Herald Democrat (Sherman, TX), 2014-09-03

Sept. 03 -- The Denison City Council approved an update to the city's drought contingency plan during a regular meeting on Tuesday. Since 1997, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires cities and municipalities to maintain and submit drought contingency and water conservation plans every five years.

Denison's drought contingency plan was last updated in 2009. The plan sets guidelines for actions to be taken by the city in the event of temporary or recurring water supply shortages and other emergencies related to the water supply.

"Basically the drought contingency plan has triggers in it that identify when water restrictions are to be put into effect," said Denison Public Works Director David Howerton .

The plan lists potential emergencies on a scale of 1 through 4 ranging from mild to an emergency. Under stage 1, or mild conditions, one potential trigger is if demand exceeds 11 million gallons per day for seven consecutive days.Currently Denison has a capacity of 13 million gallons per day.

Board Member Matt Hanley asked how often demand has reached 11 million gallon per day, to which Howerton said it is a rare occurrence.

"I think in the past 20 to 40 years, I don't know if we've gotten to 11 million gallons more than five days total," said Howerton.

Demand for all or part of the system approaching capacity due to inadequacy or a contamination of the water supply can also trigger various stages, depending on severity.

If demand exceeds 12 million gallons per day for three consecutive days, stage 2 is triggered, bringing with it new guidelines. Stage 2 also encompasses situations where the system's capacity is compromised due to failure or damage of system components.

Under both stage and stage 1 conditions, no mandatory public water restrictions will be under place. Instead the public will be encouraged to limit non-essential water usage. However, restrictions can be put in place on non-essential city water use.

Under both stage 3 and stage 4 conditions, mandatory restrictions will be put in place, including limitations on outdoor watering.

One of the major changes in the updated plan is that it "contains more teeth," said Howerton. When mandatory restrictions are in place, penalties include a fine of between $200 and $2,000 on the second offense, and the termination of service on the fourth offense.

Howerton said the city has never met the demand needed for the higher levels laid out in the plan, but felt they should be in place as the city improves its metering system and the region prepares for growth that is expected in coming years.

"The main thing is the controls are in place if they have to be extended to our customers," said Howerton.

The Council is expected to hear an update on the water conservation plan on Sept. 8 .

In a separate action, City Manager Robert Hanna presented an award to city employees Ulyss Johnson and Karen Jackson for going beyond on the job. Jackson recently received a call for service after a resident reported that a recycling bin had been knocked over, and trash had spilled out onto the yard.

When Johnson went to investigate the situation, he picked up the trash, despite recycling being handled by a separate entity.

Howerton said this exemplified the results of a recent report on solid waste services. The report, conducted to study efficiencies in the system, found that while the system could improve in a few areas, equal service could not be done by a private company at the same price.

The Council also approved a request from Denison Main Street, Inc. for approval to apply for a grant through Levitt AMP. The grant would be used toward the cost of the Music on Main program in 2015. The grant would match contributions for the program up to $25,000 . The concert series will have to be extended from eight weeks to ten to apply for the grant.

The Council took two actions after coming out of executive session.

The Council accepted the donation of a property located at 1531 S. Chandler to the city. Hanna said the property is expected to be used as a part of the city's affordable housing program.

In its second action, the Council approved a pay increase for Municipal Judge Phillip Shaffer . Shaffer, who was reappointed to the position in August, will be paid $1,800 per month for his services as judge.


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