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Town hall meeting called to answer city water concerns
by Gary Kent
Mar 28, 2013 | 1828 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – City residents will have an opportunity to obtain more information on the city’s plans to develop a backup source of ground water when a special town hall meeting is held Thursday night.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the city’s event center, 111 E. Corpus Christi St.

Several experts are scheduled to speak on variety of topics and those attending the meeting will have an opportunity to ask questions.

Many experts

to speak

Guess speakers will include engineer Jorge Arroyo of the Texas Water Development Board, who will speak on desalination, Bill Stephens of the Texas Desalination Association, who will address legislative topics, Judy Adams of the City of Brownsville, who will discuss the case history of the Southmost Regional Water Authority, engineer Kevin Spencer of R.W. Harden & Associates, who will address groundwater availability, and engineer James Machin of TRC Engineering, who will speak on concentrate disposal.

Victor Quiroga, Jr., a financial adviser and senior vice president of the San Antonio office of Southwest Securities, and Noel Valdez, an attorney with the San Antonio office of the McHall, Parkhurst and Horton, LLP law firm, also will speak at the meeting.

Quiroga and Valdez will address the sale of $15.3 million in general obligation bonds that will finance the drilling of a well and the construction of a desalination plant to pump and treat water from the Jasper aquifer.

Bond election in May

City residents will have an opportunity to vote on whether to approve the sale of bonds when the election is held on May 11.

City Councilman David Carabajal made a motion to finance the project, recommended by engineer Bill Norris of NorrisLeal Engineering Water, with general obligation bonds because that would give residents the opportunity to vote for or against the project.

If approved, the project could increase the property taxes of someone who owns a $75,000 home by about $17 a month, or more than $200 a year.

Most city residents are aware of the need to develop more water resources. With the Coastal Bend entering its third summer of a lingering drought, the level of Lake Corpus Christi is declining to the original channel of the Nueces River.

Currently, Beeville depends 100 percent on water from the river channel where the Nueces enters the lake.

In fact, one company is blaming recent pump problems at the raw water intake structure on the amount of silt and sand that could be entering the wet well from which the pumps pull the river water.

Expensive plan

Norris’ plan would require the city to drill a 1,700-foot deep well at the city’s water storage facility on West Cleveland Street into the Jasper aquifer. Although that aquifer has the most water available, its quality, based on 1,500 parts per million in suspended solids and chloride content, would have to be pumped through a $7.4 million reverse osmosis plant to bring the water up to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality standards for municipal drinking water.

City officials have said that the well and reverse osmosis plant would make Beeville one of the few cities in Texas that has a backup source of water for its municipal system.

There are no plans to abandon the city’s current surface water system.

Opposition noted

The project has its detractors. Jim Crumrine, president of the Beeville Water Supply District, said his board was never informed of the City Council’s plan to develop a well in the Jasper aquifer. He said the existing surface water treatment plant and pumping facilities need extensive improvements that could require the district to sell anywhere from $3 million to $8 million in bonds.

Crumrine said the burden on taxpayers to finance the Jasper well and reverse osmosis plant could make it almost impossible to sell bonds to finance any badly needed improvements to the existing system.

“We need additional storage here in town,” Crumrine said earlier this month. He noted that water pumped from the George P. Morrill, I Water Treatment Plant at Swinney Switch at 2:30 in the afternoon is used within nine hours of leaving the facility.

“We have about 12 hours of usable storage at normal usage,” Crimrine said. “And this is not being addressed with this bond issue.”

HDR recommends Goliad wells

Twelve months ago, after the City Council asked HDR Inc. engineers to study the possibility of developing ground water sources, engineer Christi Shaw recommended drilling wells into the Goliad sands in the southeast part of the county.

Shaw pointed out that the water from the Goliad sands is higher quality than that of the Jasper aquifer. She said she had found that the water quality was even better than that being pumped from the Morrill treatment plant.

She also told council members that the water taken from the Nueces’ shallow river bed is high in suspended solids and chlorides. She and engineer Carl Crull, also of HDR, both said that the extra stress on the pumps at the BWSD’s intake structure was taking a toll on the equipment there.

It was at that same meeting that Urban Engineering principal Jim Urban told the council that zebra mussels could be clogging the water line from the structure to the plant and that could be causing excessive pump wear.

Urban reported more recently that turned out not to be the problem, although there had been an accumulation of silt and sand in that area.

Another

clarifier needed

Engineers also have been stressing the need for another clarifier at the Morrill plant. That project would be a $1.8 million investment.

At one time, engineers were pondering the possibility of moving the intake structure farther down the lake toward the Wesley Seale Dam.

But since then, the city has been told that project might not be worth the cost because it is possible that would not help the water situation as much as originally thought.

BDA offers Chase well

Bee Development Authority Executive Director Joe B. Montez asked several weeks ago why the city never acted on an offer by the BDA to allow the city to purchase water from an existing well at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport complex.

That well is located in the Goliad sands. But representatives of the city and the BWSD have objected to a plan to sell water from a well that they claim the city already owns.

City officials also pointed out that a single well in the Goliad sands would not provide enough water and that additional wells would have to be drilled at required geographic intervals.

There also is concern about the amount of water available in the Goliad sands and the effect that pumping water from that aquifer could have on neighboring properties where water is taken.

City residents should have a chance to receive answers to many questions at Thursday night’s town hall meeting.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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