Port O’Connor Improvement District Secures $ 6 Million Loan to Expand Water System | surroundings

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The Texas Water Development Board on Thursday approved a $ 6 million loan for the Port O’Connor Improvement District to expand the use of local groundwater.

By building at least five new wells and connecting water pipes to a new raw water reservoir and a treatment plant, the district wants to become less dependent on the surface water treatment plant of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority in the Calhoun district.

District Managing Director Phillips Givens said the project will save money and create a more reliable source of water for its growing customer base.

In 2018, GBRA announced to Port Lavaca and Port O’Connor that the state was calling for the construction of a new water treatment plant in Calhoun County to combat growth and reduce disinfection of the water with by-products such as chlorine, the Environmental Projection Agency says can cause cancer.

All GBRA customers, including the district, will have to pay for the new facility directly based on their water usage.

According to TWDB records, the district is buying approximately 20% of the GBRA facility’s treatment water capacity and plans to negotiate a new contract to reduce that amount.

“It’s a way to meet rising demand, but also to try to cut the cost of providing water to local residents so they don’t have a big shock on their water bills,” Givens said.

As part of the expansion plan, district customers will not see any increases in water and sewage prices and charges as the income generated to repay the loan comes from property tax.

Based on the district’s most recent financial analysis, the board also has no plans to increase tax rates on the $ 6 million loan as the district is promising taxpayers’ money already collected, Givens said.

The reduced reliance on the GBRA facility is expected to save the district “a significant” amount of money, Givens said. The exact number was not available, although board member Danny Shane McGuire told the attorney last year that the project would allow the district to raise about $ 5.8 million instead of $ 10.8 million for its contribution to the new one Work to pay.

These numbers may change because while the new plant has been discussed for years, there has been little progress in construction.

The city council of Port Lavaca last discussed the prospect of moving the plans forward during a workshop at the end of September, but did not take any action. The city uses more than half of the treated water capacity of the GBRA system.

Patty Gonzales, a GBRA spokeswoman, said the agency supports the district’s efforts to expand and diversify its water supply and will continue to provide the district with a sustainable source of treated surface water when needed.

“Should POCID reduce the amount of contractually agreed water required by the facility, GBRA will make any necessary design adjustments to the new facility,” she said.

The new wells and aqueducts will nearly double the net water supply to the Port O’Connor Improvement District to 2.56 million gallons per day, according to TWDB.

Givens said the construction process is expected to begin in mid-2021, but is contingent on the schedule for approval by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, completion of a required environmental impact assessment, and construction tender process.

The well water is fed into a new bottom storage tank and treated in a new reverse osmosis treatment plant in order to meet the TCEQ standards. Treated water then flows into the existing ground storage tank and is mixed with water from the GBRA system before it is pumped through the distribution lines.

Reverse osmosis is a filtering process that uses engineered membrane material to remove dissolved organic materials, viruses, bacteria and other contaminants from the water. The process can also remove salts such as those found in the aquifers along the Gulf Coast.

“In the long run, your own groundwater source is more reliable and surface water has higher treatment costs,” said Givens. “If the projects prove to be true in terms of community growth … if that demand grows, we will rely more and more on groundwater than on GBRA.”

Kali Venable is an investigative and environmental reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6558 or at [email protected]

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