To address low water pressure affecting nearly 5,000 of their customers north of Peñitas and near the Juarez-Lincoln High School, the Agua Special Utility District declared an emergency and will build two booster tanks in those areas.
During Monday’s special meeting for the Agua board, the board voted 6-0 for the Edinburg based engineering firm CSJ Group to build and install two booster tanks in those areas while M2 Engineering, an Alberta, Canada-based company will oversee the installations.
The tanks, which the water district already owns, will help residents deal with low water pressure in the area. Agua Attorney Frank Garza said this issue is creating a health and public safety concern for residents, especially for the La Joya school district campuses in the area.
According to Luigi Mendoza, the assistant director for the district’s physical plant operations, the low water pressure is affecting Juarez-Lincoln High School, the district’s transportation facility and other nearby campuses.
“We’re experiencing water pressure so low that the AC chillers shut off, water fountains don’t work and our toilets get backed up and we can’t flush them,” Mendoza told the board at the meeting. “We have to haul water for the custodians to manually flush restrooms and carry 40 cases of water everyday so the kids can have drinking water throughout the day.”
This issue is new to the district, Garza said.
Agua interim General Manager “Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz said between 3,000 to 5,000 of their customers are affected by low water pressure in that area. As many as 3,000 students attend Juarez-Lincoln High School, he said.
“These hotspots of low water pressure are based on the current needs and projected growth of the area,” Saenz said. “We’re getting more developments there and it’s growing much faster than we anticipated. We’re just trying to catch up.”
The booster tanks would improve water pressure in those surrounding areas and be built through a design–build method, a project delivery system used in the construction industry on an emergency basis according to Garza.
“You [Agua SUD] acquired these tanks and now you can install them without going out in the market to buy them and then install them. You can legally do it on an emergency basis and I think this meets that requirement given there is health, safety and welfare concern for students and community,” Garza said. “Since the current tank is not being filled with water, these booster tanks would be designed precisely for that.”
One of the tanks will be built near 5 Mile and Tom Gill Road while the second one would be built in the vicinity of Dr. Maria Palmira Mendiola Elementary School, located
on 6401 Abram Rd.
To build there, Garza said the La Joya school district would need to give the water board easement to that property, something the school board did at their regular meeting later that day without any discussion.
“They see the importance and urgency of this and are willing to work with us,” Garza said of the school board.
Saenz estimated installation of the water boosters would cost around half a million dollars and said the utility district hopes to begin construction sooner rather than later.
“It’s not just a school issue, it’s a community issue,” he said.