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County to begin Blueberry Hill water upgrades
by Jason Collins
May 13, 2012 | 933 views | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents of Blueberry Hill could soon have safer drinking water. At least come fall when the water system upgrades are complete.

Commissioner Carlos Salazar Jr. announced this week that Blueberry Hill Water Works and the county will soon break ground on the planned water system improvement to “enhance water quality, improve water pressure reliability and provide safe drinking water now and in the future for the approximately 1,000 residents who reside in the Blueberry Hill Water Works service area on Beeville’s west end.”

Completion of the project is expected in the fall.

Salazar said, “Construction activities are scheduled to begin in early June with the installation of new transmission lines and two fire hydrants.

“Over 1,300 feet of small diameter water transmission lines will be replaced with larger 4-inch and 3-inch water lines.”

The new lines will connect Blueberry Hill residents to a metered wholesale point near Farm-to-Market Road 351 and the John C. Beasley Municipal Golf Course with the city.

The county will open bids for the project on May 11.

“At that time, the project will be awarded to the best lowest bidder,” Salazar said.

The improvements were designed by Thonhoff Consulting Engineers in Austin and approved by the state Commission on Environmental Quality and by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Once construction is complete and the new water improvements are ready for service, the Blueberry Hill water utility will change over all current and future customers to the new wholesale surface water supply,” Salazar said.

“These improvements are part of Bee County’s long-term strategy to make the area more attractive for economic growth and development and are part of the Blueberry Hill Water Works’ compliance strategy of capital improvements in its water system.”

About five months ago, City Council members approved their part of a water sales contract with Blueberry Hill.

Attorneys have been negotiating an agreement for months, and a number of snags have delayed the approval of a contract.

At one point, Blueberry Hill attorney Ronnie Jones even filed suit against the city and Bee County.

The plaintiff in the suit said that in September 2009, Beeville and Bee County were awarded a $500,000 grant from the state to help finance water improvements to the city’s water system and to help improve Blueberry Hill’s water distribution system.

The subdivision has operated its own water works for years, but the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality had recently brought up concerns about arsenic levels in the wells used there.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in groundwater. Government agencies have concentrated on reducing levels over health concerns.

Treatment of Blueberry Hill’s well water would have been prohibitively expensive.

The agreement between the city and the subdivision will pave the way for the corporation to start buying surface water from the city in the near future and solve the arsenic problem for residents in Blueberry Hill.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.