La Grulla scrambles to address water leak

LA GRULLA — City officials here say they may be unable to afford what’s estimated to be more than a quarter of a million dollars in repairs after a leak at the city’s water supply facilities was discovered.

The La Victoria Standpipe Booster Pump Station has been leaking for about a month, according to Mayor Pedro Flores, who said the issue wasn’t currently causing problems for residents.

Repairing the leak, the mayor said, was expected to cost upward of $250,000. However, he noted that was a preliminary estimate.

“If it’s that much, we need funding from elsewhere,” Flores said.

Project Engineer Dan Campos — of Fulcrum Consulting Service based in La Feria — said that price esti-mate was based off of pricing from previous projects he’s worked on but the city is trying to get a more “current” estimate.

“So we’re in that process right now,” Campos said, adding that process entails getting a cost estimate from tank builders or contractors who rehabilitate tanks.

“We need for that expert to come in and tell us what we need; what needs to be done and how much it’s going to cost,” said Flores, the mayor. “We’re waiting for him at any time — today, tomorrow.”

Campos also said there weren’t any known reports of residents experiencing problems with their water supply and added that the city was maintaining pressure of 35 pounds per square inch on their water distri-bution, as required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

“It’s not violating any TCEQ pressure criteria,” Campos said. “But it is leaking and it is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.”

However, the standpipe in La Victoria has been the subject of enforcement action by TCEQ in the past.

A TCEQ investigation conducted in December 2016 found several violations regarding the city’s water sup-ply facilities which included violations regarding the standpipe.

One of the findings regarding that structure — listed under “allegations” in the agreed order between the city and TCEQ— was that the city failed to “initiate maintenance and housekeeping practices to ensure the good working condition and general appearance of the facility and its equipment.”

“Specifically, the exterior and the roof of the standpipe used for distribution to the La Victoria area had rust, and the interior showed corrosion.”

The city denied all the allegations listed, according to the order, but did agree to comply with several technical requirements.

Those requirements included payment of a penalty, the completion and maintenance of records, the annual calibration of water meters, repair or replace equipment, and submit documentation to certify that they are complying with those requirements.

The order took effect on July 31, 2018, and has an Aug. 15 deadline by which the city must be in full compliance, according to Martha Otero, a spokesperson for TCEQ.

“Failure to maintain water treatment, storage and distribution facilities may compromise the public water system’s ability to ensure that an adequate supply of water that is treated in accordance with TCEQ rules is provided to its customers,” Otero wrote in an email.

“Corrective action varies depending on the situation and may require that the city of La Grulla repair or replace treatment, storage and distribution facilities to ensure compliance with TCEQ rules.”

TCEQ is conducting a follow-up investigation on this matter, she added.

bereniceg@themonitor.com