In this year’s City Council election, there has been a lot of talk about the direction in which our city is headed, but little discussion on one of the biggest issues hanging over our future. Killeen’s access to water is the most important ingredient in our community’s recipe to thrive in the coming years. Water is a finite resource and we need to ensure that we are managing it properly for our economic development. Currently, Killeen citizens and businesses are extremely limited in their ability to have a say on how their water is managed and that is something Killeen’s City Council needs to work to reverse.
The City of Killeen’s water management authority is currently ceded to Bell County Water Control & Improvement District (WCID) No. 1, which requests the amount of water in acre feet that Killeen is allocated from the Brazos River Authority. Killeen is currently allocated 39 thousand Acre feet of water but currently only uses 20 thousand acre feet of that amount while the City has access to the full allocation of 39 thousand Acre Feet, the remainder of this water still sits in Bell County lakes.
This system puts our City at a long-term disadvantage, and the reason for this is our water supply contract with the WCID No.1. Our current contract was signed in 2011 by then-City Manager Connie Green as an update to the one negotiated between the WCID No. 1 and Ft. Hood under the Department of the Army in 1955. In this, the City of Killeen was included as a local civilian community and not a primary purchasing entity. This has essentially left Killeen as an afterthought in water supply for our region. Obviously, since 1955, Killeen has grown into a community that is much larger and much more diverse than just a housing community for Ft. Hood. We need to see the contract between WCID No.1 and the city of Killeen, revise it and bring it up to date.
It is critical that the next City Council include a plan to renegotiate this contract so that the city has a direct say in its water purchasing power. This will allow the city to consider options that will benefit the city in the long-term, like purchasing Chisholm Trail or Central Texas Water Supply instead of building a water treatment plant that will benefit a select few developers. This will allow us to better plan our future growth by ensuring that our water contact is stable and that we can be prepared for future growth instead of panicking to adjust to it.
(Photo Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers)