AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The City of Amarillo voted during Tuesday’s city council meeting to approve a contract for the purchase of 15,768 acres of water rights in Roberts County.
City officials said the purchase will increase Amarillo’s water inventory by about 8%, adding around 800,000-acre feet of water to the city’s supply.
“This purchase of water rights is significant for Amarillo for many reasons. It protects the Amarillo water supply for future generations, helps strengthen the economic viability of the region and recognizes the importance of agriculture to the area,” said Floyd Hartman, the City of Amarillo Assistant City Manager.
The city will pay $1,875 per acre and the final acreage amount will be determined by a survey of up to $29,565,000 including cost said officials.
“We’re signing the contract and we have to close the loan but the plan, then it would go into our inventory,” said Hartman. “We would develop that probably in 2065, would be the master plan. So you will see we’re planning well ahead of of the need and the demand.”
He said in the future, there will be pipelines, pump stations, ground storage tanks, and other infrastructure going up, including pipelines and power lines for the development project. According to Hartman, the engineer of the water master plan estimated that in 2065, the cost of that infrastructure would be about $1.1 billion.
“This is water located in northern Roberts county, water rights on the Mesa Vista ranch. It’s an opportunity for some of the best water rights in the panhandle,” Hartman continued. “It’s grazing ranch land more than typical irrigated farmland. But the history of Amarillo and CRMWA purchasing water rights in Roberts County has made it where our acres are contiguous and that gives us the opportunity to protect that from other water user groups. But it also provides those user groups the opportunity to go in other places in the panhandle and thrive. So it eliminates the competition.”
The City reached that water rights purchase agreement with Travis Chester.
“It’s obviously a great deal for myself and my family, but it’s a historic deal for the city. And I mean, it secures Amarillo’s water supply for the future. I mean, it’s a great deal for everybody,” Chester said on Tuesday.
Hartman said by today’s standards, this water rights purchase would extend the City’s water supply by at least 30 years.
“It’s a huge amount of water,” he added. “It’s well over 8% of our existing water supplies. You could calculate more, but that’s a very conservative estimate.”
Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said they are thinking about what the city will need to grow and thrive in the long-term.
“Citizens of Amarillo should have comfort that we are always looking for opportunities to secure water rights and to protect what is a very precious resource in the Texas panhandle,” said Mayor Nelson. “And that is our water and our access to future water.”
The City also said the funds for the water rights purchase will have no impact on property tax payers. Instead, the City said the money will come from the water and sewer fund.