More fixes for San Benito’s aging water plant

SAN BENITO — The city is replacing pumps apparently found leaking in a study conducted in 2015.

Officials are awaiting a review by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before installing the backwash pumps.

An invoice released yesterday shows the city spent $165,000 to purchase three pumps.

“Our consulting engineers are meeting with TCEQ officials to provide information they may need to further that process,” City Manager Manuel De La Rosa stated in a press release. “We are ready to go with the replacement parts.”

In a January 2015 study, consultant Lou Portillo recommended replacing the 90-year-old water plant’s backwash pumps.

“The two existing backwash pumps are leaking and numerous patches are visible on the frames,” Portillo wrote in his report.

Portillo made recommendations aimed at renovating the water plant to ensure production of a safe wwater source.

“We are using the completed report to evaluate and access the plant’s performance on a daily basis,” De La Rosa said. “We have certified plant operators who continue to maintain the facility, monitoring it closely to ensure it will serve the community well.”

Portillo’s inspection of the plant in 2015 found three 10 ph pumps inoperable and recommended the city refurbish the plant’s filters.

In November, commissioners approved spending $91,812 to rehabilitate three water filters to prevent turbidity, which affects water clarity, from entering the system.

Last week, maintenance crews removed a valve whose failure helped trigger the water plant’s 36-hour shutdown Jan. 7, replacing it with an “expandable spool,” City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said.

Portillo blamed the plant’s shutdown on “freezing” temperatures creating condensation which froze in the plant’s air line and caused a leak that dropped the system’s water pressure.

Last month, the city installed heaters and insulation to protect equipment in the event of cold temperatures, city spokeswoman Martha McClain said.

So far, the city has paid JMJ Contractor $289,006 to implement Portillo’s recommendations.

The city is working on a $3 million project to renovate the water plant.

“The water treatment plant remains in compliance with (state) requirements and continues to produce quality, safe drinking water,” officials stated in a press release.

In 2014, the city turned to the old water plant as its primary water source after shutting down its new $17.9 million water plant because it wasn’t efficiently working.

In turn, the city filed a lawsuit against companies behind the construction of the water plant built in 2009. That plant is not in use at this time.