Among the changes the Denison City Council is considering for the upcoming fiscal is the the first phase of a series of water and wastewater projects estimated to cost the city almost $28 million over the course of five years. The first phase is expected to cost the city $7 million.

Among the changes the Denison City Council is considering for the upcoming fiscal is the the first phase of a series of water and wastewater projects estimated to cost the city almost $28 million over the course of five years. The first phase is expected to cost the city $7 million.


"One of our challenges is we have an aging system that needs upgrade and repairs," Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said.


To pay for the cost of these projects, which will require a $26.7 million, 20-year bond, the Council is considering raising the water rates for the first time in seven years. If implemented, the rate increase would take place over the course of five years and start as early as December, said City Manager Robert Hanna.


For the first year, Hanna said residential customers could see their rates increase by an average of about $4.50 a month between the fixed and variable water rates. This could increase to about $13 after the end of the five-year period, he said.


"Denison has been steadfast about not having to raise its rates," Mayor Jared Johnson said. "The city staff and Council have done everything to keep the rates low. No one wants a rate increase."


The increase in the base rate would be used to pay off the debt from the infrastructure upgrades, while the variable rate would be used to pay operational costs connected to the water system.


"This will better allow us to meet the needs of the community now and in the future," said Johnson.


Among the projects proposed in the upgrades is $8 million for the construction of a new water pump station on Lake Texoma. The existing pumping infrastructure was implemented in the 1950s, Public Works Director David Howerton said.


"It has ended its useful life," said Howerton, who estimates that a new station would have about three times the pumping capacity of the existing station.


Denison initially obtained water rights on Lake Texoma in the 1950s, and expanded its rights in 2010. Howerton said the increase was needed due to growth in the city, including a 20 percent growth in the city footprint through recent annexations.


"Everything hinges on the ability to pump (water) to Lake Randell and then to treatment," said Howerton.


Other projects that would take place as a part of the improvements includes an extension of the like along Highway 691 to meet increased demands from the Hilton Garden Inn and Texoma Medical Center, said Howerton. Howerton said about 15 percent of the bond sales would go toward the construction of a new trunk sewer to increase capacity. Another pipeline would run along FM 1417, giving redundancy to area businesses, including the Caterpillar Global Mining facility.


Also included in proposed projects is $4.5 million for upgrading the city’s water meters.


"There has been a lot of improvements in metering technology over the decades," said Howerton, who said that simply replacing 3.5 percent of the meters each year, as has been the City’s practice, is not enough to modernize the system.


Hanna said, as the current water meter system has aged, it has started "running cold" and is not metering all the water that is sold. Hanna was uncertain of how much this is costing the city, but Howerton said most cities that upgrade their systems pay it off within three years.


The new system will be fully automated and will allow the data to be collected by utility trucks as they drive past the residences and businesses.


"Anywhere water is taken it will be metered," said Hanna. "This will make sure the water we are selling is the water we are paid for."