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No, the Utility Division is a not-for-profit department. The Utility budget is completely funded through the rates for water and wastewater services provided to customers. Rates are based on the cost of providing the services; the department does not receive any tax revenue. The Utility Fund is an Enterprise Fund, which means the money received through utility rates are used to fund the utility department and are not dispersed, transferred or used to fund other departments within the City.
The City’s Utility Division has a total of 17 employees that include three supervisory level employees, one administrative assistant, one construction inspector and 12 field operations employees. The field operations employees operate and maintain the City’s 100+ mile water pipeline distribution network, 100+ mile wastewater collections system pipeline network, ten lift stations, five potable water pump stations, two elevated storage stations, five ground water wells and all appurtenances that are associated with the operation and maintenance of the core systems 24/7/365. All field crews hold both water and wastewater licenses and maintain their licenses as required by TCEQ. The City Council and City Manager have endorsed the staffing level of the Utility Division as the number needed to effectively and efficiently manage, operate and maintain the Highland Village utility system. The City has maintained the same number of employees in the Utility Division since 2008.
The industry standard is one field operation employee per 10 miles of waterline and one per 10 miles of wastewater. That standard applied to Highland Village means 20 field operation employees. The Utility Division has 12 field operation employees. In most City Utility operations, there are separate water and wastewater divisions. Not in Highland Village. The utility personnel are required to hold dual licenses and work and maintain both systems.
The City’s drinking water comes from Lake Lewisville and the Trinity Aquifer. The City subscribes to 3 million gallons of water per day through the Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD) to provide potable drinking water to the approximately 17,000+ citizens and visitors to the City of Highland Village. This subscription provides enough water for daily domestic use throughout the year. The City owns and operates five ground water wells to manage the summer peak water demand usage that can top 8 million gallons per day during the summer months.
Residential use was 140 GPCPD (gallons per capita per day) in 2016.
The City uses chlorine and ammonia to disinfect the groundwater pumped from the five wells. The groundwater is blended with the surface water purchased from the UTRWD (who also treats with chlorine and ammonia). The age of the water distribution and wastewater collections systems varies throughout the City. We take a proactive approach to maintenance/replacement of the infrastructure; inevitably there are failures in the system that requires licensed staff to repair. The Utility Division has a fleet of service trucks and heavy equipment that the employees utilize to operate, maintain and repair the infrastructure. The City’s Utility Division keeps a stock of repair parts on hand so maintenance and repairs can be made quickly and efficiently to keep the system fully operational 24/7/365 with limited interruptions. After a repair is made, the area is restored to as good or better condition. The Utility Division keeps stock piles of materials on hand to restore the roads, sidewalks and yards.
The City’s Utility Division is mandated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to provide safe drinking water and maintain a safe sanitary sewer collections system. City crews take water samples for proper disinfection levels daily and report the results to the TCEQ quarterly. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is mandated through the TCEQ to provide water sampling services to all potable water systems in Texas. A TWDB employee schedules several site visits at various times throughout the year to take source water samples and distribution system water samples. These samples are sent to a lab for testing. There are many regulated and non-regulated contaminants that are tested for as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The City Utility Division is the responsible party for payment of the water testing lab results.
These hours are prohibited through Highland Village’s Water Conservation Ordinance because this tends to be the warmest part of the day, which increases water loss from evaporation. It’s more efficient to water during the early morning or late evening hours when the heat is lower and the winds are not as high.