Townsend, who served as the interim city manager for a while until current City Manager Jack Hamlett was hired, was contracted to study Beeville’s water system and make recommendations on how to improve the system.
Townsend reminded council members that at one time, the city had provided water and wastewater services to both the McConnell and Garza East and West Units.
In fact, a pipeline still exists between the city and Garza units through which the city was able to supply water for the two facilities.
The bulk of that pipeline had been financed by a federal government grant, Townsend said.
The former Corpus Christi city manager noted that Beeville maintains an agreement with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and if that agency should request that the city provide water to its units at the Chase Field Criminal Justice Center, Townsend said he believes the city would have to comply.
The Chase Field center quit using city water after the agency had wells that had been established at the former naval air station put back into service.
Townsend reminded council members that the McConnell Unit, which still uses city water, is a major customer for the city’s utility department.
He said the McConnell Unit spends about $2 million a year buying water from Beeville.
“That’s one-third of the Utility Fund budget,” Townsend said. “That’s a big, big customer.”
He told council members that he had traveled to Huntsville to meet with Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials and had been assured that the prison facilities here will continue to use city water and wastewater services.
He said the prison system needs to play an active role in water planning for the city.
Townsend said the city’s utility department needs to focus on three important facets on providing water service to its customers.
Those include reliability, service to customers and a dependable backup capability.
Reliability depends on the Beeville Water Supply District pumping and treatment facilities having reliable electric service.
Backup power sources should be considered an important part of that. He recommended that the city make sure that every pumping facility between Lake Corpus Christi and the city have a backup generator to provide power to its pumps in the event electric service is interrupted.
Then Townsend touched briefly on the amount of raw water the BWSD purchases from the City of Corpus Christi.
One bit of good news came when the consultant said that the equipment at the George P. Morrill Water Treatment Plant is capable of pumping up to seven million gallons a day to the city’s distribution system.
Another encouraging figure came up when Townsend went down a list showing how much water the city had purchased from Corpus Christi on a daily basis.
“There are not fours, fives or sixes,” he told the council as he explained how many millions of gallons of water Beeville purchases a day.
That means that, except for peak demand situations, the city is not buying an unanticipated amount of water from Corpus Christi.
Townsend explained that a couple of water purchase contracts exist to assure Beeville residents a steady supply of water.
The BWSD purchases raw water from Corpus Christi and the City of Beeville buys treated water from the water district.
At the time the contacts were approved and signed, Beeville agreed to some rationing priorities and even agreed to stop pumping water from the headwaters of Lake Corpus Christi if the level should drop to a certain point.
Townsend reminded the council that, at the time, the city still had working wells and that it had agreed to maintain those wells.
That did not happen. Today those wells not only are dysfunctional, but he would not recommend trying to use them again.
Today, Corpus Christi has a contract to use water from Lake Texana by pumping it through the Mary Rhodes Pipeline.
“Texana is at 97 percent capacity,” Townsend told the council.
He also said that today, Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Corpus Christi have more water combined than Lake Corpus Christi would have been able to hold before it became silted up.
Townsend recommended that Beeville develop some new wells to supplement its lake water. But he said the city should never agree to stop using water from the lakes.
He had some good news concerning the city’s bond selling ability. The BWSD’s outstanding debt will be paid off in August of 2016 and at that point Beeville will be able to sell up to $15 million in new debt without having to raise taxes to repay the bonds.
That money could be used to pay for a variety of projects to improve the city’s water situation.
He also recommended that the BWSD be allowed to annex some of the property that has been taken in by the city but not by the district. That way, the district would be able to improve its annual tax collections.
Townsend plans to deliver other reports and make some recommendations at future council meetings.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5220, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.