Odessa will see $42 million in utility infrastructure improvements

Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Odessa City Council approved a $42 million dollar utility improvement project mainly aimed at water infrastructure.

Mayor Javier Joven says the project will improve water meter accuracy, leak detection, tower capacity and water pressure.

Project Services of Texas audited hundreds of valves and more than 43,000 water meters to create the project plan.

Up first is improving the accuracy of the city’s water meters, which are about 10% off.

“We’re going to have more accurate readings,” Joven said. “So it’s not the city increasing fees. It’s increasing the accuracy of the readings.”

Joven says the city loses about $3 million per year because of the inaccuracies.

“When it’s not accurate it’s not fair for the consumer,” Joven said. “It’s not fair for our customers and it’s not fair for the city for the reason [that] there’s losses.”

Some meters have to be physically read, while others are on a bluetooth system. Once the project is complete, all meters will be automated.

That may mean a more expensive bill for customers, but Joven says it’s necessary to address the city’s aging infrastructure.

“We have over 300 miles of transmission lines… This is an aging system. So there’s seepage and leakage throughout the system on a daily basis 24/7,” Joven said.

The project is also motivated by the major water outage last summer.

“It costs money to provide those services and if we want to continue to simply turn on the faucet and have that water on demand, we have to pay for that,” Joven said. “And we’re going to… probably see an increase, but you have control because you can adjust your consumption.”

The city has two years to accrue this income before it begins paying the loan for the project, which Joven says did not affect taxpayer funds.

The project also includes LED ting in city facilities, increasing the water capacity of the Rainbow Water Tower and fixing water pressure issues. Meters will be addressed first.

“We’re still a little ways from the water pressure, so we’ll start making those announcements as it starts coming online,” Joven said.

The project will also save water. These improvements will prevent the loss of more than 420,000 gallons of water per year.