After years of work and planning, Sherman officially broke ground on a more than $27 million expansion of its Water Treatment Plant that will double its daily capacity.

City Manager Robby Hefton said the $27,164,425 expansion will be the largest municipal project the city has ever undertaken. The expansion will allow the plant to increase its water treatment capacity from 10 million gallons per day to 20 million gallons, which will benefit Sherman and the surrounding areas.

“It is a great project — it’s one that’s going to set the city up for decades to comes in our role as a regional purveyor of water for Grayson County and the North Texas area,” Hefton said.

Sherman Mayor David Plyler said the water treatment plant expansion will also allow Sherman to become a clean water exporter over a multicounty area.

“In fact, our city management has already engaged in talks with utility providers in other municipalities and they are extremely excited about what this project will offer to their communities,” Plyler said. “Quickly growing cities like Melissa, Anna, Van Alstyne and Howe will be able to buy water from Sherman for less money than they’re spending now and pass those savings along to their citizens.”

Through the sale of clean water to other communities, Plyler said people from outside Sherman may end up paying for a large portion of the facility in the long run. Currently, the project is being funded through bonds issued by the Greater Texoma Utility Authority and GTUA General Manager Drew Satterwhite called the expansion a monumental one for Sherman’s future.

“When you take an in-depth look at the city’s water resources, what you’ll find is decades of community leadership that have taken the necessary steps and planned very well to secure the city’s water future,” Satterwhite said. “This is true from both the standpoint of water resources as well as infrastructure. Sherman has a diverse water supply with ample surface water supply from Lake Texoma, which will allow the city to continue to grow and meet the needs of the city for years to come.”

Plyler also praised GTUA for its help, noting the region is lucky to have the organization to help secure financing for such big-ticket projects.

“And I use that word ‘region’ with intention this afternoon because every time we speak of our cities along the (U.S. Highway) 75 corridor and they announce a new project, say a park for example, it’s typically labeled a regional project,” Plyler said. “And sure, kids from Sherman might occasionally play soccer in Denison, sometime, but this project that we are here celebrating today is truly a rare kind of project that will have a direct benefit on our entire region.”

Sherman Director of Utilities Mark Gibson said last year that the planned work will also see the installation of a membrane filtration system to update the facility’s filtering technology. The filtration system will be made up of a number of cylinders that are each packed full of the membranes. Resembling angel hair pasta, Gibson said the membranes are thin plastic tubes which have such small pore openings they can filter out bacteria and, sometimes, viruses from the water.

In addition to city staff and local officials, the groundbreaking was also attended by current and former members of the City Council. Hefton said the council has long been supportive of planning for the water treatment plant expansion, with Monday’s ceremony setting a foundation for the expansion.

“Most of us, when we think of a foundation, we’re thinking about a house slab that maybe takes a few days or maybe a week or so to form up and pour and get the underground utilities,” Hefton said. “This is months and months of complex piping and building up the foundation so it is prepared for what is going to be laid on it.”

The city manager said while Sherman doesn’t have any other current projects quite on the scale of the $27 million expansion, it is putting down foundations for other projects that are just as important to the city.

“The city of Sherman and Grayson County is experiencing growth in a way that it hasn’t in many, many years, probably decades, so we are engaged right now in planning efforts for streets and for parks and for other facilities,” Hefton said. “We’ve got renewed relationships with the county and the school district, and so there’s just lots of things going on right now that as a city we are preparing the soil — we’re preparing the foundation on which the growth that we’re seeing is going to be laid for decades to come and likely generations.”