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2012-08-23

Klein talks turkey re city infrastructure

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During a budget workshop on Thursday, August 9, Rudy Klein, who serves as a consulting engineer for the City of Bandera, spoke at length about water issues - both of the potable and waste varieties - that face the municipality.

Two years ago, his firm prepared a comprehensive report on the municipal infrastructure and land use in both the city and extra-territorial jurisdiction. That report had been included in the city's long-range master plan, according to Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher.

To keep the taps running, Bandera relies on groundwater from the Lower Trinity Aquifer to supply municipal needs. Regarding the city's potable water situation, Klein said, "I ask two questions: Do you have enough capacity to meet current needs and do you have excess capacity to meet future needs? How big can this system grow?"

Currently, Bandera's public water system includes four water plants located at Mulberry, Dallas and Cedar streets and in Indian Waters. It includes the capability of producing 200 gallons per connection per household; a total elevated storage capacity of 100 gallons per household; and pumping capacity of two gallons of water per minute per connection. "This accounts for .6 gallons per minute for every household," Klein said.

When the water system reaches 85 percent of its capacity, he added, the city must plan to increase its storage capability and a drill new well. "Currently you're at 40 percent of your well capacity, 20 percent of the total storage capacity and 56 percent of your elevated storage capacity," Klein said.

He described the "weak point" of the system as the capacity of the high service pump, which is currently at 78 percent. "As a short term fix, you can add another high service pump at the Mulberry Street well. It will pump 750 gallons per minute and cost from $7,500 to $10,000," Klein said.

Currently, the city has approximately 887 connections with the capability of increasing that number to 1,417 connections. The city's three wells are rated at pumping 1,250 gallons per minute, and the current 40 percent capacity reduces the pumping to only 542 gallons per minute - well within the mandated parameters.

To a question about the proposed hotel and its impact on the wells, City Administrator Mike Cardenas said, "A 100-room hotel works out to the equivalent of about 33 new connections."

Regarding a shrinking aquifer system, Klein said that a hydrology study by LBG Guyton indicated past trends had seen a five foot drop in the aquifer. "However, the city has dropped its pumps another 60 feet to counteract that."

Regarding an alternative water system, Klein said a feasibility study would be in necessary it the city decided to go with an ARS (aquifer recovery system). However, he pointed out that treating river water for human consumption would be a much more expensive prospect than drilling another well. "TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) has much more stringent requirements for surface water," Klein said.

He suggested that the city consult with the groundwater district and identify "where the aquifer has a sustainable level of water at a location that would allow water to be pumped to a centralized location for further distribution."

"Is this necessary right now?" asked Councilman John Hegemier.

"No, I think you should wait until it's critical," Klein quipped, adding, "Before you need it is the best time to do a preliminary study."

Another aspect of the city's water supply that has fared well, according to Klein, is the water loss "from pumping to selling." He put the loss only at 9 percent, which he described as "not bad at all."

Cardenas attributed the good report to the city's ongoing water line replacement projects - the last of which runs from 14th Street to Mulberry and Hackberry streets. "We'll replace the asbestos cement pipes that were installed in the '50s to '70s with six-inch concrete pipes," Cardenas said.

Turning to a related issue, Klein said the city's water treatment plant, located off Highway 16 South, is currently running at 45 percent capacity. "When it hits 75 percent, you have to begin planning for an expansion," he told council.

Luckily, when the plant was constructed in 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency required processing of 300 gallons of effluent per connection per day. Now federal requirements are 125 gallons per connection per day. "Your plant was over-designed and that's good," Klein said. "The main problem is infiltration with storm run-off."

Advising council to begin looking for a new location for the water treatment plant now, Klein said, "This location has been underwater three times, beginning in 1978. The EPA now requires that the mechanical components, such as the panel box and generator, be built above the flood plain."

Also, Schumacher noted, should the wastewater treatment facility be flooded again, there would likely be no funds available from state or federal sources for necessary repairs.