By Chris Eversole
The Mustang City Council approved last week a 30-year water contract with Oklahoma City that will save money and avoid major hikes in rates.
The new agreement drops the rate from $5.73 per 1,000 gallons to $2.22 per 1,000 gallons.
If this rate had been in effect in 2018, Mustang would have paid Oklahoma City an average of $44,000 per month rather than the $70,000 per month it actually paid, said Assistant City Manager Justin Battles.
He made the disclaimer that the new contract comes with a new condition. It requires the city to buy 20.31 million gallons of water from Oklahoma City monthly – whether it needs it or not.
Fortunately, Mustang is likely to need the full 20.31 million gallons, so it won’t have to pay for water it doesn’t use, Battles said.
What’s in it Oklahoma City?
“The agreement stabilizes the production that Oklahoma City needs to provide as they seek to avoid peaks on their system,” Battles said.
“They want to avoid Mustang using 30 million gallons per month during a very dry period, placing a higher demand on their system,” he said.
Battles credited representatives of Cowan Engineering, based in Oklahoma City, and Dennis Merrill, the water department manager, with helping reach the agreement with Oklahoma City.
“We’ve been working hard on this for a year and a half,” he said.
Mustang has upgraded its own well system over the past five years, doubling capacity, Battles said.
With the upgrade, Mustang should always have enough water available from its wells to meet demand for even the driest months, when peaks occur, he said.
Having the new capacity helps Mustang because Oklahoma City will impose a penalty if Mustang uses more than 20.31 million gallons a month – the base amount of the contract.
For the first 20 percent usage above 20.31 million gallons, the penalty rate will be $6.15 per thousand gallons.
For anything above that, the rate will be $6.81.
The penalty rates are substantially above the $2.22 that Mustang pays as long it stays under 20.31 million gallons a month.
Another improvement Mustang has made is that it will be able to reuse water from its upgrade of its wastewater treatment plant. This will lessen its demand for either Oklahoma City water or water from Mustang wells.
Mustang will use this highly treated wastewater to irrigate the ballfields at Wild Horse park, when needed.
“When we don’t need the treated water for the ballfields, we will discharge it into the South Canadian River,” Battles said.
Although the new agreement with Oklahoma City is reassuring, Mustang is being prudent, and it’s exploring additional long-term water supply options.
Mustang is cooperating with other local governments in Canadian County through the Central Oklahoma Water Resources Authority.
COWRA has contracted with Garver Engineering to study ways to meet future needs.
COWRA member governments have a sufficient water supply for the next 50 years, but they need to plan now for when they will increase their water supplies, possibly by working together, said Mary Elizabeth Mach, an engineer for Garver.
Providing more water probably would mean that COWRA member should drill more wells in the future, either individually or cooperatively, she said.
“The focus of the plan is to determine how much water needs to be acquired to meet the demands in 50 years based on population projections,” Mach said.