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Llano River Continues to Flow, Slowly
City to Remain at Stage 4
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 • Posted June 29, 2011

As of Monday afternoon, water was flowing over the dam on the Llano River at a rate of 10 cubic feet per second, up from around 3cfs last week. Because of this increase, and the effort by Llano water customers to reduce water use to less than 500,000 gallons a day, the Llano City Council voted to not enter Stage 5 of the Water Conservation and Drought Contingency Plan at this time.

Stage 4 Restrictions are still in place, with outside watering prohibited by any means at any time. Commercial water customers remain under Stage 3 Restrictions.

Although water is flowing over the dam currently, Mayor Mike Reagor reminded Council that it does not take long for water to go from flowing over the dam to ceasing to flow. "You have to be ready for 0 cfs when the flow gets to 12 cfs," said Reagor, referring to the ‘quick to rise, quick to DECREASE’ character of the Llano River.

While the water is to the top of the flash boards at this time, if the water drops to the top of the dam, the City of Llano will have approximately 93 days of water left if usage is at 670,000 gallons a day; 120 days if usage is at 500,000.

Finley deGaffenried, City Manager, suggested to council that measurements taken at Rio Llano offer a more accurate guage of the river’s flow, and that they use the measurement taken there as the indicator for when Stage 5 should be enacted. "If we wait until it is not flowing over the dam during Stage 4, with a pumpage of 600,000 gallons a day, we would have only 21 days of water left," stated deGaffenried.

Council agreed that Rio Llano would be the official indicator for if and when the City would need to move to Stage 5.

City staff presented Ordinance 1186 which would amend Ord. No. 1035 Water Conservation and Drought Contingency Plan Rate Structures of Water and Wastewater. Currently, in Stage 5, allocations of water are mandatory, with penalties for usage that exceeds half of the average winter use for water customers, and those penalties could result in an increase in rates of $300 or more. At the direction of the Council at last week’s council meeting, city staff worked on an amended version of the rate increases, including a different tier system that took into consideration the fact that 80% of all water customers use less than 8,000 gallons of water per month on during the winter months. With the new tier system, those who consistently conserve water would not be forced to cut their water consumption to unrealistic amounts.

The proposed new rates would call for penalties to be assessed once a household exceeded 8,000 gallon mark, again at 25,000 gallons, 50,000 gallons and 100,000 gallons. Under the proposed plan, rates would increase $1.36 per 1,000 gallons over 8,000, $1.88 per gallon over 25,000, $2.35 per gallon over 50,000, $3.07 per gallon over 50,000 and $3.79 per gallon over 100,000 gallons. Penalty rates were also proposed for apartment complexes and commercial and industrial users as well. Water rates for customers, including residential, commercial and industrial users, would be double the minimum rate.

Council members were concerned that the penalties were not stiff enough to discourage use over the recommended 8,000 gallons, and so asked city staff to rework the amendment and directed them to reduce the number of tiers in the structure.

During the meeting, Council discussed alternative sources of water and ways to increase the amount of water that is held in impoundments that could then be treated and used safely.

Josh LAST NAME, CITY WORKER, addressed Council regarding the drilling a well to supplement the water supply near the city’s water treatment plant. According to JOSH, the city had the area checked for underground water and two possible sites were found. Texas Commission of Environmental Quality was consulted, and recommended that a drilling test be conducted before moving forward with digging a well.

Kerry Williams, City Secretary, gathered information about the possibility of having bottled water shipped in and made available to residents for a nominal amount. She found several options, and will continue to pursue that option.

Discussion of other options included dredging the city lake, dam extensions and leak detection.

Dredging the lake was the most contentious options. Alderman Mike Hazel is in favor of dredging, believing that it is the cheapest of the options and would enable the lake to hold more water. Mayor Reagor opposed that belief, stating that the extension of the dam via flash boards was the least costly, and increased the amount of water held in the impoundment by 54 cubic acres.

Following a debate, JR Decker suggested that the Council continue to look at all options, getting cost information, etc, before any decisions are made.

deGaffenried stated that the city should put together a funding package to present to State Agencies for possible funding of any projects to increase the water supply.

Finally, deGaffenried addressed the Council regarding a recommendation from TCEQ to call Senior Water Rights on junior rights upstream of Llano. This would require that anyone who is diverting water upstream stop so that the City of Llano can use that water.

TCEQ recommends that the City do it sooner rather than later, because if the city waits until it is at 0 cfs, there might not be enough flow to get the water downstream to Llano.

In response to whether or not the diversion would upset junior rights holders, Decker stated, "We have to worry about the citizens of this town."

Council voted unanimously to make the Senior Call on Llano River Water Rights.

The only request for a variance on restrictions this week came from Flay Deats, who requested that a variance be granted to allow him to power wash garage doors at TxDOT prior to painting them. With a motion from JR Decker and a second from Mike Hazel, Council voted to table the matter pending more information.

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