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City of Andrews partners with gas company for water

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Posted: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 12:00 am

ANDREWS The City of Andrews is now leasing 1,044 acres of land in northwest Andrews for the purposes of water development.

DCP Midstream LP, a natural gas company with a plant in Andrews, agreed to a long-term water rights lease April 30 with the city. Andrews City Manager Glen Hackler said the lease, when combined with a prior acquisition, will provide residents with 75 to 100 years of water.

“This is a real critical piece of our water puzzle,” Hackler said.

Hackler said the move followed findings in a water study that the city commissioned between 2003 and 2004.

“With the private development of water rights and then farming, we are certainly seeing water levels dropping and that’s what was identified in the study for over a 25-year period of time,” Hackler said. “This deal wasn’t developed out of urgency but out of a desire to have long-term, secure water supply.”

Currently, the city draws water from the University Fields and the Florey Field. The city paid $100,000 bonus payment to enter the lease agreement and will pay DCP Midstream a minimum of $50,000 a year. The first five years come at no cost to the city while they plan and develop this land.

“The lease states that so long as we (the City of Andrews) produce water for municipal purposes, the lease is in effect,” Hackler said. “We pay them at a rate that’s tied to our water rate, so it’s a win-win situation for them.”

Around two years ago, the City of Andrews acquired 930 acres of land for $1.3 million from Newbrough Farms. That land is in between Andrews and Seminole on U.S. Highway 385.

“This lease essentially connects our current well fields with what we got two years ago,” Hackler said. “It is of huge value as far as connecting infrastructure and gives us 2,000-plus acres that has potential to deliver water for the very long-term. We’ve been operating on a section and a half for 50 years and to double that gives us great potential.”

Hackler said a section is 640 acres and that a section-and-a-half would be around 960 acres.

Chris Mertz, manager of land and right of way for the Permian Basin region of DCP, said the company wanted to help the county after having been a presence in it for so long.

“We have numerous employees that live in Andrews, and not only are we supporting them by doing so, but residents the residents in the city and county, too,” Mertz said. “We certainly weren’t using water for ourselves currently, but we retained some for our own company in case we needed it.”

Mertz said the company may need some of the water to help cool its plant and for utilities purposes in the company’s office buildings.

“Our presence in the area is just going to continue to grow as oil and gas production continues to grow. Everybody’s drilling everywhere and we’re continuing to put in more projects,” Mertz said. “We’re a huge presence in the county of Andrews with our operations, and we wanted to support the county and the city both in that regard (to water).”

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