The Greater Texoma Utility Authority approved a participation agreement on Monday that would allow for $3.83 million in funding for the first phase of improvements to the Lake Kiowa Special Utility District.

The Greater Texoma Utility Authority approved a participation agreement on Monday that would allow for $3.83 million in funding for the first phase of improvements to the Lake Kiowa Special Utility District.

The measure will allow the Texas Water Development Board to participate in the project, using funds from its Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The project is expected to cost $12 million to complete all phases of the development. The $3.83 million for the first phase will be used to fund an elevated storage tank, purchase new metering equipment and replace older asbestos-lined concrete piping used in the district.

Adding to the expense of the project, the SUD plans to complete the pipeline project by boring pipeline rather than cutting ground in an attempt to not disturb property and property owners throughout the project.

In a related measure, the board adopted a new resolution to allow it to act on behalf of the SUD in measures relating to the improvements. This would act similarly to the previous agreement the agencies had for securing water rights in Lake Texoma and would allow the GTUA to issue bonds and construct facilities in the project.

In other matters, the GTUA approved a funding agreement for the city of Ector water storage tank improvement project. In February, the board accepted a bid on the project from Central Tank Coatings of $83,600. While the majority of the project will be funded by the TWDB, it will not finance the lead abatement stage of the project, which will require the city to remove the lead lining of the tank. The funding agreement allows the GTUA to fund the abatement at a cost of $4,500.

In a separate matter, the board awarded a contract to replace ultraviolet disinfection equipment at Sherman’s Post Oak Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to Trojan Technologies, who submitted a bid of $822,000. The contract would allow the GTUA to procure the equipment prior to the authority soliciting bids for the installation. A lower bid of $605,000 was made by Ozonia, but it did not meet the specifications or requirements needed by the wastewater plant for the project.

The work at the treatment station is not expected to impact productivity. The station’s two-channel design will allow workers to upgrade each section individually without affecting flow through the remaining channel.

Currently, the GTUA is conducting evaluations and estimating a cost for the installation, said Damir Lulo, water and wastewater projects manager for Freeman-Millican Inc., which conducted the bid survey for the GTUA.

The board also approved a change order for the contract with Harrison, Walker & Harper for $202,668.77 bringing the total project contract for work at the Gainesville water system to $2,367,620.37. The change order includes increased costs connected to the raw water pump station, pipeline connections, storage tank rehabilitation and other expenses. Donald Skelton, GTUA board president, asked if major increase normal in these projects. Drew Satterwhite, general manager for the GTUA, said, as the contractors progress with these projects, it isn’t uncommon for them to discover the need of other improvements.

In the general manager’s report, Satterwhite addressed growing concerns surrounding the decreased water levels in Lake Texoma. 2013 marked the second lowest year of inflow, following 2011, and the lowest level in lake water levels since the 1970s.

"The bottom line is it boils down to Mother Nature," said Satterwhite.

In 2013, the GTUA pumped 5,162 acre-feet of its allocated 83,200 acre-feet of water from the lake. The North Texas Municipal Water District has not pumped from Lake Texoma since 2009, following the discovery of invasive zebra mussels in the water.

"The pumping is not the problem," said Skelton. "It is the inflow and evaporation."

Satterwhite proposed the introduction of a frequently asked questions section to the GTUA’s website with answers to questions regarding the state of the lake.

In a separate action, the board recognized the lengthy career of Jerry Chapman, who served as General Manager since 1982. This was the final meeting for Chapman as a full-time employee of the GTUA.

"I remember the first (board meeting), and I want to tell you it’s gone by in a flash," said Chapman, regarding his 32 years with the utility authority. Chapman will remain on with the GTUA on a consulting basis for the next year as Satterwhite transitions into the position of general manager.