Steps taken toward surface water conversion
By KAREN HASTINGS
Missouri City took major steps Sept. 8 in its expensive conversion to surface water, awarding nearly $5 million in contracts for a water filtration system and reservoir construction, and adding an additional water storage site for the future.
Taking advantage of a favorable bidding climate," the City Council voted to move ahead with construction of two raw water reservoirs on the original 25-acre water treatment plant site west of the Sienna Plantation subdivision, and to purchase an additional 66 acres that will allow for even more storage capacity later.
The city's new water system eventually will tap the Brazos River and help meet a state mandate to reduce dependence on groundwater sources.
The bottom line is we have to be off groundwater and be converted by 2012," Councilman Brett Kolaja said after the meeting. We have a deadline and schedule we have to meet."
Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Wyatt agreed it was millions well-spent: All those decisions will save the city a whole lot of money."
Public Works Director Scott Elmer said the city plans to go out for bids on general plant construction by late November or early December with water flowing" by March 2011.
Fort Bend and other counties are under a state mandate to reduce pumping from underground aquifers, which leads to subsidence. Missouri City has joined with nearby communities and municipal utility districts in a Joint Groundwater Reduction Plan.
Pumpage fees levied against water users will be used to finance construction of the new surface-water system.
Missouri City has had an option on Brazos River water since the 1990s, and recently converted that option to take 15 million gallons per day from the river.
In separate votes on Sept. 8, council members approved a $1.8 million contract with Double Oak Construction of Waller to construct the two raw water reservoirs.
This will give the city about 100 million gallons or four days of water storage and help protect against low-water conditions and variable water quality in the Brazos River, Elmer said.
City Manager Frank Simpson said the city decided to move ahead with site work ahead of general construction because of the current favorable bidding climate."
The Sept. 8 low bid was one of 18 bids submitted and came in at roughly half of the city's $3.7 million estimate, he said.
Early completion of this part of the project also will reduce construction time on the plant itself by about three months, Simpson added.
Council members also authorized the mayor to purchase 65.98 acres at $10,000 per acre $659,800 from Sienna Plantation developer, The Johnson Development Corp.
The city's plan is to build additional raw water reservoirs on the land, giving the city up to 30 days of extra storage, Elmer said.
The land gives the city direct access to the river and the purchase price is slightly below the appraised value of $10,500 per acre, he said.
Kolaja said the city chose the Sienna Plantation location in the southern part of Missouri City because it is closer to the Brazos River and because it will be less disruptive to convert the area to surface water as it develops.
It's more cost-effective to convert that part of the city," he said.
The council also suspended competitive bidding requirements to award a $3.1 million contract to New York-based Pall Corp. for a membrane micro-filtration system.
Assistant City Manager Bill Atkinson said city staff and members of the Groundwater Reduction Plan Oversight Committee toured plants and reviewed available technologies before deciding that Pall's membrane microfiltration is the best available technology to meet project water quality goals."
The staff justified the sole-source bid by saying Pall Corp. was the only company with both the technology and experience with large water systems.
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