Bonnet on front line of city water challenges
By SEAN SHAPIRO
The rain the past two weeks has helped, but managing Liberty Hill’s water supply is not an easy task for Wayne Bonnet, the City’s new Director of Public Works.
Bonnet was hired by the City two months ago, coming from the City of Florence where he held the same position. Bonnet said there are some similarities between the cities as both rely on wells, but dealing with supplemental water is a newer task.
In Florence, the supplemental water was not a necessity, yet. In Liberty Hill, the wells are already working at capacity as the town continues to outgrow a system that was designed well before the population boom.
“The growth has been tremendous, from what I’ve seen in just a short time here,” Bonnet said. “That’s why we’re working toward acquiring more water from the City of Leander and Chisholm Trail.”
Right now, the City pumps on average 19,000 to 22,000 gallons of water daily from Chisholm Trail. Liberty Hill has 100,000 gallons daily allotment from Chisholm Trail, and Bonnet is working on how to best utilize the supply.
“We’re actually looking into what accounts we can switch over to Chisholm Trail, that way we can best use that allotment in Chisholm Trail,” Bonnet said. “And, of course, there are talks of us getting more (water) from (Chisholm Trail) as we prepare for the growth.”
While Chisholm Trail’s supplemental water is already in place, Liberty Hill is working with Leander to get more water. Bonnet said the City has to adapt its system to accept water from Leander, which will also be the pipeline the city could pump in a reserved acreage of water from Lake Travis.
For Bonnet, forecasting Liberty Hill’s growth will be important as the City works to supply enough water for a growing population.
“It’s hard for me to determine that at this point, it’s going to take some time to get used to what the water system here is like,” Bonnet said. “It’s mainly looking at the numbers and figuring out the usage. At this point we’re trying to up what we can get to accommodate the growth.”
Rain, especially heavy amounts, makes accommodating that growth a little bit easier. That’s why Bonnet’s department was more than willing to spend more time mowing city property this week as grass sprouted up. “It’s helping the grass grow tremendously, it’s keeping us busy,” Bonnet said.
“It’s helping keep people from watering their lawns as much, which is a big help for our water situation.”
Bonnet said people should be mindful of watering their lawn no matter the situation. He said people should also take the time to think of water as a valuable resource, not as a fact of life.
“Anything they can do to conserve water, the water situation isn’t getting any better, anywhere,” Bonnet said. “It’s getting scarce. Actually, it’s already a very, very scarce resource.”