WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The old Oklaunion Power Plant closed in October 2020 and remains vacant.
A new hydrogen power plant is proposed to take the place of the coal one. However, with this, the city of Wichita Falls is asked to sell 20,000 acre-feet of water to the new plant.
Wichita County is in a drought, and water restrictions are rising. City officials say this plant will not take water that is being consumed.
Rather, it is taking water designated for external use.
“That 20,000-acre feet comes out of a state adjudicated right of water that allows the city of Wichita Falls and the Wichita County water improvement district number two to sell 40,000-acre feet of water for industrial purposes,” said Daniel Nix, Utility Operations Manager.
The city appropriates amounts of water to different items throughout the year: 25,000 acre feet for drinking, 120,000 acre feet for agriculture, and 40,000 for industrial purposes.
The biggest concern is “What if we are in a drought?” The new contract establishes a boundary to conserve within the plant to ensure citizens have water.
“Under the current contract, they can continue to use water as much as they want, and there’s not anything we can do to curtail that during a drought,” said Nix. “The new contract has language in there that says when we go into a drought and we trigger for the citizens of Wichita Falls, they have to trigger the same drought reproductions.”
The old contract allows Oklaunion Power Plant to control 20,000 acre-feet of water regardless of a drought. This new contract establishes a boundary protecting the water in Lake Kemp.