Highlands hears details of Water District bonds

Tuesday night the public heard engineers, financial experts, and the Water District board tell of the need for physical improvements to the water lines and processing facilities of the Harris County Water Control & Improvement District No. 1.

Mark Taylor, general manager of the water district, introduced Wallace Trochesset and Jimmy Flowers of the LJA Engineering firm, and Andrew Friedman of SAMCO Capital. They explained with slides and narration what work was planned for the system, and how it would be paid for.

Although the total bond package that voters are being asked to approve would total $16,000,000, it will be sold and implemented in two phases.

Phase I is termed “2016 Short Term Projects” according to Trochesset. Work to be included are a “digester” for the wastewater treatment plant, and a control system for the existing lift station. The total for this work is about $2,500,000.

Also included in Phase I is to replace the lift station at Blue Bell, and West Houston. They are deteriorated beyond repair, Trochesset said. The Corley lift station would be removed. This work is estimated at $688,800.

Also included are renovations to the Battlebell water plant, and maintenance and recoating of the elevated storage tank, which is now 35 years old. This work is estimated at $1,977,000.

Also included are new water lines to replace aging and failing lines, on Clear Lake Road, Wallisville Road, and Magnolia and West Houston. The total estimated cost of these is $680, 600.

Trochesset said there is a Phase II, “2023 Long Term Projects” that will include:

Rehabilitation of the existing clarifier No. 3 at the Waste Water plant, and treatment for phosphorous and nitrogen. This cost is estimated at $5,804,000.

Also included in Phase II is a replacement Lift Station on West Houston, and the abandonment of a left station on Corley. These projects are estimated to cost $$608,000.

The total estimated for construction costs is $12,256,400 and with engineering and legal fees the total project cost, and bond referendum amount to $16,000,000.

The bonds, and construction, will take place over the next 8 years, Taylor said. The work is necessary to keep the aging system in operation, and providing safe drinking water.

Bonds are a less expensive method of meeting costs, rather than paying for the work from ongoing water bill charges.

It was calculated that for a home owner with an assessed value of $150,000, Phase I improvements would only cost about an additional $200 yearly on the water bill. After Phase II, the cost would be $645 added to the annual water bill.