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Personal Notes from Abilene City Council Meeting 11-5-09

By Joe Starkey



Main points of what I think I heard and what I thought about:O’Brien’s bottom line: Yes, we can sell Tenaska the water.Q: Would our contract in any way open us up to being required to provide more than 1.8 million gallons per day? How do we know that this is all they want from us, both now and decades from now?Q: Would the contract “move Tenaska to the head of the line” in any way? Would they have claim before existing or future customers? Would they have claims that override any future decision we might make to use the water ourselves to supplement our Lake Ft. Phantom supply or to bring on-line customers that would have a more direct economic impact on Abilene?O’Brien’s implication: We’re not using the effluent water anyhow, so we can sell it.Q: He also said that we could use effluent water to supplement LFP if we were to take certain steps . If we’re concerned with our potable water supply, why not do this with any “excess” effluent water instead of contracting to sell it?O’Brien’s statements re heavy use: On heaviest use days, we would run a deficit, and it would strain Lake Kirby to cover this deficit for as long as a month.Q: We have had, even in recent years, more than thirty straight summer days with no precipitation whatsoever. Why would this seem to be an unlikely scenario?Briley’s implication: We can make a good profit from this sale.Q: What costs would we actually incur, including hidden costs . For this type of project, I suspect that an accurate accounting would show that we would not profit any at all, much less in any amount that would matter.Briley’s statement, “We have an opportunity to be a good neighbor.”Q: Shouldn’t “being a good neighbor” include concern for the environment of the region? There is more to be concerned with here than someone else’s profit.My Bottom LineIt might be possible to persuade the City Council to vote against the sale by raising the questions listed above and by focusing two distinct issues:1. The Water Supply Issue a. It might be possible to persuade a majority of the City Council that the sale is risky, since we would be required to move Tenaska to the head of the line, and since we’re already “on the edge” during heaviest use periods. b. Also, we should raise the issue of “smart use” of our limited effluent supply. If it is possible to reuse this , we should do that rather than lock ourselves out of possible smarter use in the future. c. Not only is reusing our effluent water a possible “smart use,” we should also leave ourselves some flexibility in order to attract industry to the city. A potential major industrial client would not look on Abilene favorably if we have to say, “Sorry, but our effluent water supply is already overburdened, so you’re welcome to come here as long as you don’t need much water for your industrial processes.”2. The Environmental Issue a. Airborne toxins will precipitate into the watershed. . b. Toxins from the stored ash will find their way into the watershed. Much has been said about this. If I’m reading p. A-15 of the application correctly and have done some basic math correctly, Tenaska is planning for an average of 1.5 tons of ash to be blown away in the wind that passes over the 50 acres of ash landfill.

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