If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, than a civic project of a thousand steps — not to mention $20 million — begins with a single vote. And for the city of Sherman’s water treatment plant expansion, that vote came last week, as the City Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 5835, authorizing the Greater Texoma Utility Authority to issue $2.5 million in new debt.

If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, than a civic project of a thousand steps — not to mention $20 million — begins with a single vote. And for the city of Sherman’s water treatment plant expansion, that vote came last week, as the City Council unanimously passed Resolution No. 5835, authorizing the Greater Texoma Utility Authority to issue $2.5 million in new debt.


With that money, Sherman will begin a three-year process to double the capacity of its water treatment plant, which is located near Grayson College on La Cima Road. The plant is currently capable of treating 10 million gallons of Lake Texoma water each day, which is approximately half of the city’s peak usage. Sherman utilizes 24 groundwater wells to make up the difference.


The funds raised by the GTUA bonds will provide the initial investment in the project. Details provided by the organization Monday showed the majority of the money — more than $1.8 million — will be used to design the upgrade, as engineers will spend much of the next year determining the best way to integrate new technologies with old. The expansion will utilize microfiltration to clean the water and reverse osmosis for desalination, both of which are upgrades over the existing infrastructure.


The remaining funds will be split among special services, including surveying and environmental impact studies ($106,000), acquisition of easements and administration ($102,400), and fiscal services to establish the funding instruments in question ($86,635). Planners have earmarked approximately $350,000 for contingencies.


The planning phase of the project is expected to take 16 months to complete. A testing plan will first be created, followed by a pilot program to assess the plan’s feasibility. From there, preliminary and final design will begin, which should wrap sometime in the spring of 2016.


Construction on the project will include the addition of a second preoxidation basin at the plant, which is the first step in treating the lake water. Additionally, a large warehouse will be built just to the west of the current filtration facility, in which the new technology will be located. Construction should take at least a year, with the plant coming on line during the summer of 2017.


The project is being funded in large part through the new revenue stream created by Panda Power Funds’ natural gas plant in south Sherman. The plant uses between 4 million and 5 million gallons of untreated lake water each day in order to turn its steam turbine, losing the water to evaporation in the process. The city will be paid as much as $1 million each year for those gallons — money it will use to pay back the water treatment bonds.


For city leaders, the project represents a vital step forward. According to the Texas Water Development Board, Sherman is projected to double in size over the course of the next 45 years. Projections provided by Director of Utilities Mark Gibson show water demand in the city eclipsing supply as soon as 2025, were the plant expansion not to occur.


In order for the city to realize that growth as expected, having a steady supply of clean drinking water is paramount, said Sherman Mayor Cary Wacker.


"Meeting the water demands of our current and future residential, commercial, and industrial customers is vital to our growth plans," said Wacker. "We’re truly fortunate to have access to a water source that supports these goals. This project will be utilizing a technology that ensures that we continue to provide a high quality of water to our customers."