By Keile Reither
In 2000, a diversion project was started at Lake Stamford. This project included a diversion dam built on California Creek and three pumps used to divert excess water from the creek into the lake. With the primary inflow coming from the west of the lake at Paint Creek, AEP (which was WTU at the time) and the City of Stamford agreed that inflow from the east side at California Creek as well would be beneficial to sustaining the lake. They entered into an agreement to finance the project and split the costs. Although the American Electric Power plant is not still in operation, they continue to pay the city $192,000 per year for the cost of the project. With a balance of approximately 2.6 million dollars, the scheduled payoff date is in year 2041. City Manager Alan Plumlee pointed out that when the Tenaska Plant is up and operating in Sweetwater, it will alleviate the city’s portion of the debt. Part of the agreement made between the city and Tenaska for the sale of water from Lake Stamford cites that Tenaska will then assume the city’s fifty percent project and operating costs including the electricity used to run the pumps.
The last time the pumps were in operation was in 2007, and with a random inspection by the city manager they were found to need some work. The first phase was to pull one pump and motor for inspection and repair. The job was contracted to Smith Pump out of Waco, Texas and got underway in October 2012. Initial reports by City Manager Alan Plumlee during the November 19 City Council meeting were that the estimated cost of repairs for pump one was $97,000. After completion of pump one at the beginning of March, the total cost is approximately $120,000. This cost is, of course, split between the City of Stamford and AEP. Due to the sporadic much needed rain, they were not able to reinstall pump one and pull the other two for inspection until this past week. Therefore, the cost of repairing the last two pumps is still undetermined.
Being new to Stamford, this reporter questioned Alan on how these pumps would help when California Creek is currently dry. Alan again pointed out that California Creek is not the primary inflow for Lake Stamford and this project was designed simply as another resource for water to the lake. With the lack of rain to the area, Stamford Lake is seeing substantial water loss. Based on the conservation storage which is 12,469 acre-ft, and the conservation capacity which is 51,570 acre feet, the lake is currently 24.2 percent full. Since June of 1953 the lowest the water level has been seen was 13.1 percent full, being 15.8 feet below conservation pool elevation in October 2000. Lake Stamford is currently 11.89 feet below conservation pool elevation, and is expected to reach twelve by the end of next week. It was reported during the January 22 City Council meeting that when the lake reaches fourteen feet below conservation pool elevation, the City of Stamford will go into water conservation mode. Considering the lake is losing approximately 1-2 inches per week that puts us about six months out if the lack of substantial rain continues. While citizens are not required at this point to conserve water, the city asks that they be aware of the problem and do what they can to practice conservation measures.