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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Under Pressure: What’s a Boil Advisory, Anyway?

Sometimes, due to adverse weather conditions, infrastructure updates or other changes to your water service, Aqua may issue a precautionary boil advisory. We do this to ensure that your family is safe and taking the proper precautions.

We understand that receiving a boil advisory might be confusing, though, which is why we’re here to answer your burning—or boiling—questions.

What is a precautionary boil advisory?

First of all, it’s important to note that different Aqua states use different terms for this type of notice. If you’re in North Carolina, for example, you probably know of boiling advisories as system pressure advisories.

Aqua will issue a precautionary boil advisory through our usual channels of communication:

In addition these notifications, advisory information is added to the Aqua website, and customers enrolled in WaterSmart Alerts, a system that automatically sends notifications about water quality and service issues to impacted Aqua customers, will be notified.

Why are these advisories issued?

According to Aqua North Carolina’s Regional Manager of Compliance/Engineering  Michael Melton, “An advisory is put out after [Aqua] has had to shut the system down for emergency repairs, such as a main break or a well pump replacement.”

“When the system is shut down, there is the potential of bacteria to enter the water,” he explains. “It is very unlikely that there will be an issue, but these advisories are put in place in abundance of caution.”

Essentially, if Aqua puts out a boil advisory or system pressure advisory, it is not a sure sign that your water has been contaminated. Instead, it means that we’re playing it safe and would rather you and your family take precautionary measures to ensure the quality of your drinking water. It’s for your (and our) peace of mind.

What does the boiling process actually accomplish?

Okay, so you understand why you’ve received an advisory. But what does the simple process of boiling water actually accomplish?

Between reactions, moving atoms and bouncing water molecules, plenty of scientific things are happening before your water even comes to a boil.

  • As water heats up, the vapor pressure increases to match the pressure of the gas around the liquid. This pressure is the key to the boiling process.
  • Gas starts to heat at the bottom of the water and rise to the top. (That’s why you see bubbles!)
  • As the liquid boils, the extreme heat eliminates harmful pathogens (bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms that can cause disease) from the water.

Other tips to keep in mind:

  • Because of the importance of the atmospheric pressure, boiling water at different altitudes is something to keep in mind. The USDA has more information on that subject here.
  • Before taking your water off the stove, make sure it reaches a rolling boil at 212° Fahrenheit for one to three minutes.
  • This goes without saying, but make sure you let your boiled water cool down before using it for any drinking, cooking or teeth cleaning.

How long should you continue boiling your water after receiving an advisory?

According to Melton, “Upon collecting the sample received by the laboratory and analysis received by Aqua, this process typically takes 24-36 hours.”

When the advisory is officially lifted, Aqua will get back in touch to let you know.

Often, hurricane season and precautionary boil advisories go hand-in-hand. To ensure you’re prepared for anything extreme weather might throw your way, make sure you check out our guide to hurricane preparedness.

If you have more questions, visit our website or call 877-987-2782 to talk to one of our customer service representatives.

 

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