It all started a year ago, long before the drought was a thought in anyone's mind. "Over a year ago, we had lots of rain. Our last summer was very wet. We had probably a record wet summer here last year," says Pete Kampfer, Colorado City city manager.
But even then, Kampfer says there was a severe shortage in potable groundwater for residents to drink. "We initiated a request, working with the county government here. They happen to operate and manage our funds for economic development. Discussed finding more drinking water. "
And the search paid off. Mitchell County was awarded a $2.8 million grant from the Texas Department of Rural Affairs to construct a plant to treat brackish groundwater.
While past technology used to treat this type of groundwater is too expensive for most small towns, the state has found a way for towns like Colorado City to afford it, using a resource they already have - wind.
Once the plant and three 500-kilowatt wind turbines are up and running, Kampfer explains how it'll work. "The reverse osmosis plant works under electricity based upon charging the water and pumps and pushing the water through the membranes and removing salt and other indigestible particles."
The plant will be located near the current water treatment facility southwest of Colorado City.
Kampfer's hoping this will not only help the people currently living in Mitchell County, but those looking to move there in the future. "Hopefully, people that are looking to reside here as well as businesses will be able to see it as a good benefit for appropriate priced water, and also if they want to locate a business here, they'll know they have a future for the long term."
Construction is slated to begin later this year. Once it's up and running, it's expected to produce up to 750-thousand gallons of potable water per day for residents in Mitchell County. The cost to residents is still being worked out.