On the agenda at Amarillo 101: water

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of being invited to attend an upcoming primer on Amarillo City Hall.

It’s going to last eight weeks and it will cover a lot of ground. I’ve seen the agenda for the next several weeks and I’m struck by the amount of time we’re going to spend on water issues — which for my money rank as the most critical long-term issue facing the city.

One session will take place at the Osage Water Treatment Plant. It’s going to cover water production, treatment and transmission, wastewater treatment, surface water treatment and the ever-important conservation program called “Every Drop Counts.”

I’ve toured the Osage plant. About two years ago, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson — no slouch on water management issues — and Utilities Director Emmitt Autrey took me on a comprehensive day-long tour of virtually the entire city water infrastructure. We looked at new wells under construction as well as the water treatment plant.

I was amazed then at how much water is processed each day. I can’t recite the amount at this moment, but the volume was simply staggering.

My hope during this early October session will be to get an answer to what I believe is the threshold question for the city: What circumstances would have to occur to require the city to mandate water conservation measures for every resident and business in Amarillo? A follow-up question would be: Are we getting close to that point?

The city’s water-rights-acquisition campaign has secured a lot of water for Amarillo. I keep hearing that we’re positioned well for the next 100 or so years. But then what?

I’m not inclined to spend too much time worrying beyond my own lifespan or even that of my kids and grandkids. The thought of Amarillo drying up because we weren’t far-sighted enough right now, however, does give me the nervous jerks.

I am hoping for some answers as to whether we’re looking that far into the future.

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