Water Department History

The water department and its employees are committed to delivering a safe and abundant supply of potable water sufficient to meet the needs of each of our customers at the lowest practical costs. To that end, we remain vigilant in meeting the challenges of source water protection, water conservation, and community education.

This utility also has the parallel mission of transporting customer wastewater to treatment facilities at the lowest practical costs.

On October 25, 2004 the Garland Water Utilities Department was recognized for performance excellence.  The Garland Chamber of Commerce selected the City water utility as the recipient of the 2004 Garland Excellence Award.  This annual award is presented to organizations that serve as role models for quality, customer satisfaction, and performance excellence in Garland.

In 1922, the City’s first water and sewer system was completed with $100,000 in bonds. A 2,300 foot well was dug supplying water for a 135 feet high, 75,000 gallon elevated storage tank and a 75,000 gallon underground storage tank located at Fifth and Avenue A. With the project heading towards a cost overrun, Garland’s business and professional leaders worked side-by-side with the hired laborers.

The location was adjacent to the City-owned Diesel Plant. The Diesel Plant housed a 75 horsepower generator required for backup power by state fire insurance; however, with the new water and sewer system ready to go online, Texas Power and Light was unwilling to sell electric power for the water pumps at a bulk rate.

An additional 100 horsepower generator was purchased on credit from Fairbanks Morse Company. When Charlie Newman closed the main electrical switch on April 1, 1923, affordable 2,300-volt electrical power to run the water pumps was available. It also launched what was to become city owned and operated Garland Power & Light.

After decades of efforts on the Trinity River, a 1939 Corps of Engineers study sparked a study, which called for building a series of flood control dams in the watershed. These dams created lakes, which would hold water only for short periods until it was safe to release water downstream. Before anything could get started, World War II required the efforts of the nation.

By 1946, the cities, towns, and communities in the East Fork Basin were aware the supply of ground water could not keep up with the growth they were experiencing. Ten cities in the vicinity of the proposed Lavon Flood Control Reservoir united with the idea of creating a lake, which would provide a source for surface drinking water. At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 27, 1947, Sam Rayburn turned a shovel full of dirt to begin construction on Lavon Reservoir.

On November 27, 1950, the East Fork Association (made up of members from the ten original cities) voted at a meeting held in Garland City Hall to ask the Legislature for enabling legislation to form a water district. House Bill 241 and Senate Bill 141 were submitted simultaneously on February 12 for the creation of the "North Texas Municipal Water District." The House passed the bill 121-0, the Senate 25-1, and Governor Allan Shivers signed the bill into law on April 20, 1951.

The history of Garland water is also a history of the North Texas Municipal Water District. By 1952, in response to a drought that would last much longer than expected, Garland had drilled its fifth well and erected two more storage tanks of 250,000 and 500,000 gallons. These wells were very deep, ranging in depth from 2,303 feet to 3,689 feet. Continued dependence on ground water would require an additional well to be developed in 1959, another in 1964, and a new well about every five years thereafter. With no assurance the ground water supply would last for any definite period of time, a surface supply was needed.

On December 5, 1953, a general election to approve contracting with the district for water was held in Garland, Wylie, Plano, Mesquite, Princeton, Rockwall, Royce City, McKinney, Farmersville, and Forney. Voters in each city overwhelmingly approved the election, and the North Texas Municipal Water District was in business.

The first City of Garland ground storage tank for this new source of potable water was constructed in 1955 on Wallace Drive with a capacity of 3.5 million gallons.  The first treated wholesale water was delivered on November 15, 1956 at a cost of 18 cents per 1,000 gallons. The total billing from the water district for the first year was $148,000.

To increase the efficiency of pumping operations and maintain water pressures across the existing elevations of the city, the distribution system was split into two separate pressure zones in 1986. Also, in 1986 three 1.45-megawatt standby engine-generators were installed to provide emergency power.  An additional generator was installed in 1996 providing two pump stations with back-up power in each pressure zone.  In 1996 and 1997 two additional ground storage tanks were installed along with various pump upgrades to provide for projected water demands.

Garland’s water distribution and storage network is comprised of six pump stations, eight ground storage tanks, two elevated storage tanks, and the pipe network to provide an abundant supply of safe high quality potable water for all customer-owners.

References

"Garland Its Premier Century - An Illustrated History" by Michael R. Hayslip
Windsor Publications, Inc., 1991

"Gift of Water, Legacy of Service - A History of the North Texas Municipal Water District" by Bill Sloan
Taylor Publishing Company, 1994