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Northeast Times | January 18, 2022

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Arlington: Water Utilities Completes $14 Million Energy Efficiency Upgrade At Treatment Plant

Arlington: Water Utilities Completes $14 Million Energy Efficiency Upgrade At Treatment Plant

Arlington Water Utilities recently completed a $14 million upgrade to its John F. Kubala Water Treatment Plant that will improve electrical efficiency and backup power resources at the facility. The project, which was completed in May, included removing old, outdated equipment and installing new electrical infrastructure, including transformers, electrical lines and switch gear. An environmentally controlled building to house new electrical equipment was also built at the plant, which is located along U.S. 287 in southwest Arlington.

The John F. Kubala Water Treatment Plant opened in 1989, becoming the City of Arlington’s second water treatment plant. An expansion in 2010 brought its drinking water production capacity to 97.5 million gallons a day. But, after almost 30 years, the plant’s electrical systems needed updates. The Arlington City Council approved the project in 2016. The new electrical gear has an expected life of 30 years.

“This was a major undertaking and an important project to increase the reliability of the John F. Kubala Water Treatment Plant. The increase in reliability is integral to the overall goals of Arlington Water Utilities,” says Justin Kirchdoerfer, an Arlington Water Utilities civil engineer and project manager for the electrical upgrades.

He added that the electrical project, along with already completed disinfection system upgrades, put Arlington well on its way to completing improvements outlined in a 2017 Rehabilitation, Improvements, and Optimization Master Plan. Arlington Water Utilities also plans to upgrade storage structures, as well as chemical and electrical equipment at its Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant over the next four years. Chemical system upgrades are also planned at the Kubala plant.

Most of the funding for the electrical renovations at the John F. Kubala plant came from a low-interest loan granted by Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). The approved loan amount was for $11,445,000, with loan forgiveness or “green grant” in the amount of $450,777. Green grants are reserved for projects that demonstrate environmentally friendly impacts. The lowered interest rate on the loan could save Arlington Water Utilities almost $3 million in interest costs over the loan’s lifetime. Additional costs of the project were funded through water department bond sales.

The electrical project is expected to yield long-term savings on operation and maintenance costs.

Improvements included:

  • Reducing the total number of electrical meters at the treatment plant. The updates mean the various plant facilities will not be operating at maximum power at the same time, which reduces charges paid to the electrical provider, and is good for the overall, long-term operation of the treatment plant.
  • New soft-start motor controllers for the high service pumps will reduce startup demands on the electrical system and allow all treatment equipment to be used from the existing generators. The soft starters also allow the plant to require fewer emergency power generators than would be needed with typical motor starters.
  • Increased routes for power coming into the plant, which will increase reliability.
  • The new electrical building, which will allow for less overall maintenance of electrical gear and other equipment. This leads to an increased lifespan for the machinery. New motor starters also place less stress on the water pump motors at start-up, which increases the life of the motors.
  • Updated programmable logic controllers also “talk” to the plant by sending signals to all the electrical gear and provide operators with real time power consumption information.

Following the completion of the electrical project, the Kubala Water Treatment plant began producing water for residents in June in combination with the Pierce-Burch Water Treatment Plant.

For more information about Arlington Water Utilities, visit