Breaking ground and beating droughts in Texas

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It’s summertime, and staying hydrated is a top priority. But what about hydrating the ground we walk on?

At Aqua, we work carefully to address drought conditions that affect our service areas. That’s why we are so excited about the upcoming completion of our first surface water treatment plant in Barton Creek, Texas, a state that last year experienced its most severe drought since 2015.

To learn more about the importance of this project, we reached out to Scot Foltz, environmental compliance manager at Aqua Texas.

What’s the big deal?

“There’s significant concern over the long-term viability of the groundwater supply for the growing Barton Creek Lakeside community,” says Foltz. With the help of this project, he says, Aqua will be able to “manage the available resources more effectively and ensure an adequate supply of water for the service area.”

Macintosh HD:Users:valeriehoke:Desktop:images:AQUA:Aquastructure:2019:June:961CBB08.jpgBehind-the-scenes as crews prepare to begin laying block for the walls

These efforts should alleviate a great deal of stress for families, farmers, and all other customers in Texas. Since the area has proven to be “highly susceptible to drought,” Foltz explains that the construction of this plant is “intended to reduce the impacts of drought and increase source reliability.”

What’s in it for the customers?

The completion of this project will produce several notable benefits for our customers. Aqua recognizes the necessary community restrictions on water intended to aid conservation efforts. However, Foltz says “the surface water plant will help alleviate some restrictions as we work with LCRA [Lower Colorado River Authority] to ensure conservation measures are followed.”

Customers may also notice improvements in the general aesthetic quality of the water. “The water hardness and dissolved mineral content of the lake water is naturally lower than groundwater in the area,” says Foltz. “While looks aren’t everything, we’re happy to be a part of efforts to improve overall experiences for our customers.”

Another glimpse at the work site

So when can you expect to start seeing all of these benefits? We’ve got great news for you. After conducting preliminary studies on the groundwater and determining that surface water supply was the best alternative for long-term source reliability, the team received approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and began construction in late 2018. He expects construction to be completed by the end of 2019.

But wait—there’s more!

Barton Creek, Texas event

Front row: Terry Franks, Aqua Texas Business Development Director; Scot Foltz, Aqua Texas Environmental Compliance Manger; State Representative Vikki Goodwin; Bob Laughman, Aqua Texas President; Michael Fruge, Barton Creek Lakeside POA Board President; Carol Birsa, Barton Creek Lakeside POA Board Secretary.  
Back row: Shawn Hammons, Aqua Texas Safety Specialist; Brent Reeh, Aqua Texas Regional Manager; Matt Morgan, Peyton Construction Project Manager; Mark Wetzel, Barton Creek POA Board Member; Marty Kurtz, Barton Creek POA Board Member; David Lee, Barton Creek POA Board Member.  

As part of our commitment to the effective management of water resources, Aqua Texas acknowledges the state’s increasing demand for water services. “Aqua is committed to effectively managing our water resources by encouraging conservation, making capital investments to improve efficiency within our systems, and working with our community partners to develop solutions to the increasing demand for water,” Foltz adds.

Whether we’re working in Texas or any of the eight states we serve, we are dedicated to providing safe, reliable water to all of our customers. Stay tuned to learn about another recent infrastructure project in our next Aquastructure blog! 

 

 

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Aqua employees demonstrate extraordinary dedication during Hurricane Harvey

 

By Aqua Texas President and Houston resident Bob Laughman

As Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc throughout southeast Texas with catastrophic flooding, Aqua employees worked long hours in challenging conditions to maintain and restore service to our customers. 

Aqua serves about 76,000 people through 146 water systems throughout southeast Texas. Although we had standby generators ready to deploy after the hurricane hit, many systems remained powered and in full operation during Harvey. However, devastating flood conditions impeded employees from safely traveling to some communities to determine if water quality had been compromised by the storm. We issued a precautionary boil advisory to 121 systems and lifted these advisories as our operators confirmed the safety of each system’s water.

 

Area Manager Chris Garcia and his team delivered extraordinary service as they personally dealt with the horrendous flooding you saw on TV. They truly exemplify Aqua’s mission and core values, and I thank them for their commitment to the communities we serve.

Aqua employees Gary Douglas and Scott Verret distributing water in Beaumont.

As my employees worked tirelessly to restore service for our own customers in southeast Texas, they also reached out to help other communities who needed it. The City of Beaumont lost its water supply for nearly 120,000 people as a result of the storm. On September 1 — after driving more than 500 miles from our Fort Worth and Palestine offices through Louisiana and along coastal roads to avoid flooded areas — Aqua employees Gary Douglas, Scott Verret, J.Don Dewveall, Tim Goforth, Ben Clark and Nathan Sweeney arrived in Beaumont with two drinking water tankers. The crew provided bulk clean water to a mobile hospital unit, three churches, local residents and a ship — the Liberty Peace — that could not leave the harbor without clean drinking water. Our tankers also provided an invaluable clean water supply to the Jefferson County emergency operations center, the main center that coordinated regional disaster rescue and response.

 

Aqua delivered water to various locations including a court house and mobile hospital unit.

Mike Kirkpatrick, Jefferson County emergency management coordinator, conveyed his and the community’s deep appreciation for everything that Aqua Texas did on their behalf. Kirkpatrick said Aqua Texas was the reason the emergency operations center was able to stay open during the worst of the crisis. 

I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to my co-workers throughout Texas and our Aqua America family nationwide for their inspiring teamwork and extraordinary efforts to serve our customers throughout the hurricane and its aftermath.

Nathan Sweeney and Ben Clark were among the Aqua employees who arrived in Beaumont with two drinking water tankers. 

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