homefootball contestsports schedulescontactlinksarchives

Links for Thursday, June 26, 2014:

newsobituariestown talkfireworkswater construction

City swaps water rights

By Patricia Phipps, Friona City Manager

For years, the City of Friona has been looking at ways to secure water for its current and future citizens and local businesses. Water is the foundation of any community’s future. Friona and Parmer County are no different. Every business looking to relocate or start up in the Texas Panhandle or South Plains asks the same question – How is the Water?

After Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation closed its Plainview plant in February 2013, a meeting was held with Cargill Representatives, the City of Friona, the City of Hereford, the City of Bovina, the City of Clovis, N.M., the Friona Economic Development Board, the County and the Friona School District. John Keating stressed the fact that Cargill was facing increasing water stress, but that Cargill wanted to be part of the solution for securing available water for Cargill and Friona’s future.

Following this meeting, numerous meetings were held with engineers and other professionals to assess options. The City of Friona talked with their engineer about different options that could help Cargill with their water needs without compromising the future water needs of its citizens and businesses. Several different preliminary plans were looked at by the City Council over the next year.

In February 2014 another meeting was held at the Cargill plant with representatives from the City of Friona, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Texas Cattle Feeder Association. The meeting was facilitated by Global Environment and Technology Foundation of Arlington Virginia with hopes of narrowing down options for Cargill and Friona.

After multiple City Council meetings and meetings with the City Attorney and the City Engineer discussing how to best address the future water challenges facing Cargill and the City of Friona the following plan was decided upon:

The City of Friona exchanged 386 acres, including water rights that it owned south of Friona, to Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation for 476 acres, including water rights, north of Friona, on May 30, 2014. This allowed Cargill to have a water source close to its plant, decreasing infrastructure and handling costs. It also allowed the City of Friona to obtain quality water rights near its existing infrastructure. Similar infrastructure did not exist near the water rights to the south. “This swap is a win/win for the City and Cargill” stated Friona Mayor Pro Tem, Greg Lewellen.

According to High Plains Underground Water Conservation District maps, the City’s new water rights have approximately twice the saturated thickness as those located to the south. The new water rights are adjacent to the current City well field. City Engineer Dwight Brandt believes that this location will save several million dollars in infrastructure costs when the City develops the new water rights. Mayor Pro Tem Lewellen further noted that the deal makes a lot of sense because the new water rights join what the City already owns to the north and the water rights south are much closer to the Cargill plant.

One final advantage for all parties lies in the developing rules governing water use in this area and throughout Texas. With these water right acquisitions, both Cargill and the City should benefit from the expected changes to the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District rules which have been discussed concerning “contiguous acres”. A contiguous acre is a surface acre of land overlying the Ogallala Aquifer upon which a well has been located, and each additional acre of land that is (1) owned by the same entity and (2) located in the same continuous boundary or adjacent to acreage under (1) or (2). Considering the proposed changes, the City should have increased flexibility moving forward.

With this exchange, neither party has to cross the railroad or Highway 60, saving money and time. City Manager, Patricia Phipps, affirmed that the exchange cost the City little money but helped secure the future water needs of both the City and Cargill. Ms. Phipps noted that this is a great example of private entities working together with the public to help everyone.