Anna officials discuss water system with residents
The city of Anna recently hosted a water seminar to talk with residents about the various factors that affect both water quality and cost. The session was lead by Public Works Director Greg Peters who gave a formal presentation before taking questions from the public.
One of the first things Peters discussed was the evolving source of the city’s water supply. Historically, most of the city’s water has come from well water replenished by the Upper Woodbine Aquifer and the Trinity Aquifer. As the city has grown, surface water has made up an increasingly larger percentage of the supply. Currently, about 55 percent of Anna’s water still comes from wells. By next summer, surface water is expected to account for more than half of the supply.
In the past, the two water sources were treated with different chemical processes. This meant that the city had to go through an additional treatment step to ensure water going to residents was safe. Beginning this year, both water types were now being treated with the same monochloramines, ensuring improved quality and more efficient delivery.
Of course, many residents still say that the water in town does not taste good. According to Peters, an odd taste does not necessarily mean that the water is unhealthy or contaminated. Rather, the taste variance from place to place is usually due to different water sources and treatment processes. Other factors include the mineral content, home filtration and even the temperature. Additionally, each march, the North Texas Municipal Water District conducts an annual choline maintenance period in March that alters the taste of the water. Peters says that most taste issues can be resolved with a simple at-home charcoal filter. These are common on water pitchers, refrigerator water filters and sink filter attachments.
While many people may believe that bottled water is safer than tap, municipal water is actually tested more regularly to ensure its safety. If serious issues are found with the water quality, city officials are required by law to mail every customer explaining the issues that were discovered. Ironically enough, a large percentage of bottled water is actually sourced from municipal water supplies.
Cost also a concern
In addition to water quality, one of the biggest issues on the minds of residents was the cost of their monthly water bill. Getting water to Anna is no easy task. With no local lake to source from, the city teams up with Melissa, Van Alstyne and Howe to form the Collin Grayson Municipal Alliance (CGMA). Together the CGMA members contract with the Greater Texoma Utility Authority to purchase treated water from the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD). The NTMWD gets water from Lake Lavon, treats it, and sells it to the CGMA. The GTUA maintains a pump station, storage tanks, and a water main from McKinney to Howe.
As a water customer, Anna pays a higher rate than some North Texas cities. Since 2015, NTMWD water costs have increased by 58.3 percent, and sewer treatment and transportation costs have shot up 51.3 percent. In response, Anna city staff proposed a 15 percent increase in water rates earlier this year. When the city council balked at that amount, city officials froze two public works jobs and pushed out several expansion and maintenance projects to reduce the increase amount to 10 percent. While this still may seem steep to some, the new rate puts Anna in a favorable position compared to similar cities, particularly those in the CGMA.
Water needs will continue to increase
In 2010 Anna’s population was estimated to be around 8,500. Over the past decade, that has ballooned to approximately 20,000. The city now sees about 700 new homes per year. To meet the growing demand, an expansion of the Collin County pump and storage facility is planned. The Lower Bois D’Arc Lake promises to provide an additional water source as well. Anna officials are also looking into the possibility of partnering with the city of Sherman to purchase water from Lake Texoma.
Peters reminded residents that staff is available 24 hours per day to deal with emergencies. He also said this his team would be happy to come out and inspect meters to confirm that everything is working properly and search for leaks if they are suspected.
“We work with you guys and for you guys, and we want to help you any way we can,” he said.