City Council takes proactive approach to protect water supply

City Council met in regular session Tuesday and heard from Jaime Hudson, assistant chief water operator, who warned the council that he had “good news and bad news. The good news was that the repairs on the leaking shop tank had held and that the leaks had stopped. Hudson reported that he had met with Brock & Bustillos, who advised that only one contractor had shown interest in building the new tank. According to Hudson, the bid for the new tank will be awarded on July 18th, with a pre-construction meeting scheduled in mid-August.

The 40-year old bolted water storage tank. The expected lifespan of a bolted tank is between 25 and 30 years. -Advocate Photo

Hudson then asked the council to approve the rental of temporary generators to power city wells in the event of an outage. Given that the yearly “monsoon” season is nearing, Hudson reminded council that storms could easily cause power outages resulting in depletion of water supplies, within only 5 hours. Not only that, in case that the water level goes down at the courthouse well, the decrease in pressure could impact the integrity of the beleaguered tank, resulting in massive leaks.

Council then heard from a representative from Integrated Generator Systems, or IGS, who provided the power grid for the local sand plant, about what would be needed to ensure that any generator bought by the city be able to be brought online safely and with minimal effort.

After hearing options, the council moved quickly to approve a docking station and a transfer switch from IGS, which could be delivered in less than two weeks in preparation for the generator.

Hudson also reported that the well that had been pumping water that has air in it was doing so because of a faulty motor. According to Hudson, that pump has been in service since 2006 continuously and that he was told that repairs on the obsolete motor would probably be more expensive than the purchase of a new motor. Council voted unanimously to hire THI to do the work on the well as soon as possible.

Council also heard from Edward Torres, gas department manager, who reported that approximately 5 ½ miles obsolete gas lines on 2185 are now, for the most part, off-line, increasing available gas pressure. Torres also advised council that the city will have an extensive inspection by the Railroad Commission on September 10, but was confident that the city would pass with flying colors. Torres also reported on new equipment that would be available to upgrade gas company operations and would be paid for through a pending grant without a city match.

A request from Eva Melendez and Drucilla Villalobos to rename Eisenhower Street, which runs in front of the hospital entrance and clinic, to Dr. Lipsey Road, was tabled until surveys could be mailed to residents who would be affected by the address change. Council decided to wait to hear from residents and to explore the impact an address change would have on package deliveries and 911 calls as well as other legal issues.

Fran Malafronte, city administrator, announced that no one was in attendance on tonight’s public hearing on the 2017 Consumer Confidence Report on the city’s drinking water quality, but reminded the council that Van Horn’s drinking water will be competing soon at the state level for the envious “Best Water in the State” designation.

Council voted unanimously to approve several requests from Mayor Young to ask El Paso Electric to install street lights at several areas in town for safety reasons. They also approved a proposal from A.C. Cyn-mar Pool to install safety coping around the city pool as required by the Texas Department of State Health Services and voted to renew the current health insurance for employees from TML.