Amarillo City Council approves nearly $30 million purchase of water rights in Roberts County

The Amarillo City Council today approved a contract for the purchase of up to 15,768 acres of water rights in Roberts County. The purchase increases the city’s water inventory by approximately 8 percent, adding an estimated 800,000-acre feet of water to the city water supply.

“This purchase of water rights is significant for Amarillo for many reasons. It protects the Amarillo water supply for future generations, helps strengthen the economic viability of the region and recognizes the importance of agriculture to the area,” Amarillo Assistant City Manager Floyd Hartman said.

“This is water located in northern Roberts county, water rights on the Mesa Vista ranch. It’s an opportunity for some of the best water rights in the Panhandle.

“It’s grazing ranch land more than typical irrigated farmland. But the history of Amarillo and CRMWA purchasing water rights in Roberts County has made it where our acres are contiguous and that gives us the opportunity to protect that from other water user groups. 

"But it also provides those user groups the opportunity to go in other places in the Panhandle and thrive. So it eliminates the competition," Hartman said.

The water rights are located in close proximity to water rights already owned by the city and the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority.

Amarillo will pay $1,875 per acre. The final acreage amount will be determined by a survey – up to $29,565,000, including closing costs.

“The city is thankful for the opportunity to purchase these water rights, which are among the best in the Texas Panhandle and the region,” Hartman said. “These water rights preserve our most valuable asset – water – for decades to come.”

Approximently $12.3 million dollars from a previous water rights sale 10 years ago in Dallam and Hartley counties by the city will be used towards the $30 million purchase. Hartmen said the money from the previous sale was set aside specifically for the purchase of future water rights. 

Hartment went on to explain that remaining $18 million for the Roberts County purchase would be a part of the normal budgeting process for the City of Amarillo. This means Amarillo residents will likely see around a 2% increase in their monthy water rate to raise the additional funds.

“Citizens of Amarillo should have comfort that we are always looking for opportunities to secure water rights and to protect what is a very precious resource in the Texas Panhandle.

“And that is our water and our access to future water,” Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said.

Travis Chester, who is selling the water rights, said it was great deal for his family and the City of Amarillo.

“It’s obviously a great deal for myself and my family but it’s a historic deal for the city,” says Chester. “It secures Amarillo’s water supply for the future. It’s a great deal for everybody.”

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