Water pump down in city plant, citizens urged to conserve water

(File photo by Steve Southwell)

Lewisville has lost the use of a 10 MGD (millions of gallons per day) water distribution pump at the C.R. Feaster Water Treatment Plant. While the city is still able to distribute water at capacity, officials are urging conservation until the pump can be repaired. This comes in the midst of a string of 100 plus degree days, with water demand at its peak in the city. 

Public services director Keith Marvin said the city is still able to pump the same amount of water because of redundancies built into the distribution system, but doing so puts a strain on the other pumps. He said that if another part of the system fails, the city will have to rely on Dallas to meet water needs, which would have permanent financial consequences.

“If we were to lose another pump, then we would have a significant problem,” he said. “I’m pushing the limit of other mechanical equipment to keep up with the demand.”

The city has a wholesale treated water contract that allows Lewisville to draw clean water from Dallas Water Utilities. Dallas Water Utilities charges Lewisville two ways — 45.65 cents per thousand gallons of water actually delivered to Lewisville, and a “demand charge” of $280,458 per MGD per year of water that DWU needs to keep available for distribution in Lewisville. Lewisville currently purchases nine MGD of treated water per year from DWU, which costs $2.5 million.

According to the 30-year contract, Lewisville is allowed to increase its demand by 1 MGD increments, but the rate is based Lewisville’s peak demand in the past five years — in other words, DWU is required to keep the highest demand Lewisville has had in the past five years ready, and charge Lewisville for it. So if the Lewisville does need to ask for a 10th MGD, residents will be on the hook for an extra $280,458 for at least the next five years whether or not the city ever needs it again. Marvin said once that threshold is crossed, the demand is not likely to go back down.

Marvin said the pump in question is one of Lewisville’s larger ones, and had its motor burn out Thursday night. He said they should have a replacement installed Tuesday. The repairs will cost $43,000.

“In this case, that is one of two large pumps in that pumphouse. If the other one were to go down because of the excess wear and tear on it, not being able to cycle it off and cycle the other one on, then we would be at greater risk there,” he said. “There’s not any part of the city that’s not getting any water. We’re getting everybody water. We’ve got enough supply right now, it’s just that we’re pushing the limits of the pump station, really.”

Marvin said that due to future expansion in East Lewisville and Castle Hills, it is likely the city will need to up its ask from DWU eventually, but they don’t want to have to pay for more water than they need already.

To save water, Marvin urged residents to be conscious of their water use and observe stage 1 water restrictions. Residents and businesses are already restricted from outdoor watering on Mondays in accordance with city restrictions. Outdoor watering is already restricted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the hottest hours of the day when water tends to evaporate before doing lawns any good anyway, and Marvin said that window should probably be wider.

Update 5:30 p.m.: Marvin said the city has not had to order a 10th set of million gallons from Dallas yet, and he is optimistic that it will not need to. The new motor for the pump is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning.