Data-Driven Solution Saves Millions for Arlington Water Utilities
By Traci Peterson, Arlington Water Utilities
Posted on September 16, 2020, September 16, 2020

Grace Howell Elevated Storage Tank

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently approved Arlington Water Utilities’ plan for meeting the water needs of residents in The American Dream City’s northern half – a stamp of approval that could help the City avoid millions of dollars in the cost of new infrastructure.

Arlington sought an Alternative Capacity Requirement approval from the TCEQ earlier this year, after a change was made to the way Arlington’s Grace Howell Elevated Storage Tank was classified by state regulators. Arlington faced a choice – it could either make plans to build or expand another elevated storage tank, or the city could apply for the Alternative Capacity Requirement from the state. Knowing they could meet the demand with current infrastructure, Arlington engineers, treatment managers and computer data analysts compiled years of system operation data and water demands to demonstrate the highly effective way the utility manages the water distribution system.

The TCEQ approved the Arlington Water Utilities plan in August, after a nearly three-month review.

“This is a wonderful example of cooperative, data driven solutions,” said Arlington Water Utilities Director Craig M. Cummings. “It was a long, labor-intensive process, but this effort will save Arlington Water Utilities in the range of 4 million to 6 million dollars that the City might have otherwise spent on a new or expanded elevated storage tank.”

 Arlington’s water distribution system is divided into three pressure planes served by the city’s two water treatment plants. To fulfill water capacity requirements set for water systems by the state, elevated storage tanks in a water distribution system must be filled using water pressure from the system. The Grace Howell Elevated Storage Tank located on the far east side of the city utilizes an onsite booster pump to achieve more effective operation and maintain optimal water quality. AWU fully utilizes the elevated tank to help meet peak hourly system demands and provides a localized source of water for fire protection in the Great Southwest Industrial District. However, due to refined criteria, the tank no longer counts as “elevated storage” for statutory requirements, which say

Arlington must have 100 gallons of elevated storage capacity for each service connection in the city.

 Cummings said an important factor in achieving the TCEQ approval for Arlington’s plan was a recognition of less than anticipated water usage trends in the City’s Lower Pressure Plane, which is the area of Arlington primarily north of Arkansas Lane. In 2014, a master plan for the water department anticipated an average daily demand of 67 million gallons a day in 2018 for the north part of Arlington. Actual usage in 2018 ended up being an average of just under 53 million gallons a day. A variety of factors, including more efficient plumbing fixtures, the City’s conservation-minded rate structure, and the water department’s proactive leak detection program, have led to water usage declines. 

 Arlington Water Utilities treats and distributes more than 19 billion gallons of water to Arlington residents each year and is designated as a Superior Public Water System by the TCEQ. To learn more, visit www.arlingtontx.gov/water.

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