“It may be new to South Texas,” Norris said of the project he is proposing to ease Beeville’s dependence on the dwindling supply of surface water the Beeville Water Supply District now purchases from the City of Corpus Christi.
Norris offered several options the city could take to deal with a lingering drought and shrinking lake levels. One of those would be to do nothing. But at a cost of $0.85 per 1,000 gallons of untreated water being pumped from the Nueces River near Swinney Switch, that option is not inexpensive.
“Corpus Christi said they could be out of water within two years, and they said that several months ago,” Norris told those present.
Then he reminded the City Council, members of the BWSD and city rate payers that the 22-mile pipeline between the George P. Morrill, I Water Treatment Plant at Swinney Switch and the city’s ground storage tanks is 30 years old. That line already is plagued with leaks and may eventually need to be replaced.
Other options would include drilling 10 wells into the Evangeline (Goliad) aquifer in southeast Bee County and/or drilling a well about 1,600 feet deep inside the city into the saltier Jasper aquifer and treating the water through reverse osmosis before blending it with untreated water from the same well and pumping it into the ground storage tanks.
Norris went on to explain the costs and the technology of using reverse osmosis to treat water that is not up to the standards of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Other technology experts who spoke at the meeting included Jorge Arroyo, an engineer with the Texas Water Development Board; Bill Stevens of Capitol Dome Partners in Austin, who spoke concerning the interest the Texas Legislature has in the current water problems across the state; Judy Adams, operator of a desalination plant in Brownsville, Kevin Spencer, an expert on groundwater aquifers; James Machin, a senior engineer with TRC Solutions of Austin; and Victor Quiroga, a senior vice president with Southwest Securities in San Antonio.
Quiroga’s company would be in charge of selling the $15.3 million in general obligation bonds that would be sold to finance the project.
Quiroga explained the impact the bond sale would have on city property tax rates and on the city’s ability to sell other bonds in the future.
Several taxpayers and businessmen asked questions in an effort to weigh the options.
Some of those included rancher Ray Welder, attorney Tom Beasley, businessmen Dave Moore, Jessy T. Garza and Dick Beasley, and Beeville residents Carlos Perez, Nancy Shavor and John Morris.
Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez assured those attending that the City Council has plans to hold two more town hall meetings during April.
More details on the first town hall meeting will appear in next week’s issue.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.