Odessa Residents Concerned Over Irrigation in Public Parks

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--The city is using waste water so that it doesn't go to waste.

A lot of the water we use goes down the drain, from flushing toilets, to showering. But did you know, some of it's actually being used to keep some Odessa parks green?

"This plant will treat, somewhere on the order of six and one half million gallons per day," Matt Irvin, Utilities Director of the Derrington Water Reclamation Plant, said.

It's not a new idea, but it is a constantly advancing technology. Waste water, from all over Odessa, gets treated and pumped back to certain locations in town.

It's called an Activated Sludge Process. The current drought and water restrictions are putting it back in the spotlight.

"It's a high quality waste water treatment process that's followed by a filtration step, along with disinfection and that kind of thing to make the water meet the TCEQ required level of irrigation reused water," Irvin explained.

Enclosed on 50 acres, about three miles outside of Odessa city limits, the Derrington plant was ahead of it's time when it was originally built in the 1980's. It was upgraded, expanded and renovated in the mid 1990's and has been recognized for the work it does.

"The plant operates under a federal, state permit in order to discharge that water. The water that we ship back to town, for irrigation purposes, actually exceeds the quality of the discharge parameters," Irvin commented.

Given the water restrictions, reuse water is an excellent conservation effort.  It's used on places like UTPB, Ratliff Ranch and Memorial Gardens and is exempt from those restrictions.

Irwin says the constant flow of water into the treatment plant makes it almost drought proof, since there's no worry about where the supply is coming from.

Of the more than six million gallons that are treated per day, at least three to four million go to the reuse sites. But, if they don't use it, they lose it. Treated water, not used for irrigation, gets dumped down the Monahans Draw.

"It can vary greatly from day to day. But it could be a couple of million gallons, I'll say, going into the draw," Irvin said.

Reuse water customers pay for the water they receive and that helps offset operating costs.  Using it for irrigation at parks and golf courses, means the city won't have to use it's own resources.

"The three million gallons, let's say, that's going up to the golf courses or wherever today, is three million gallons of potable water that's not being used for that same purpose," Irvin said.

The general public can't just go buy a couple of gallons of reuse water system to use on their lawn, as good as the idea sounds.

According to Irvin, there have been instances in the State of Texas, where the water that comes out of a plant like this can actually be recycled and treated to the point of being potable water.