Pharr: TWDB Approves $38 Million in Water/Wastewater Improvements
Feature Photo (above): Entrance to the Pharr Wastewater Treatment Plant. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Pharr (Hidalgo County) — The Texas Water Development Board approved nearly $38 million in financial assistance for two water and wastewater improvement projects needed in the City of Pharr.
The TWDB on June 25 approved by resolution a request from the city for $19,830,421 in financial assistance consisting of $18,150,000 in financing and $1,680,421 in principal forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for planning, design, and construction of a wastewater systems improvements project.
In addition, $17,880,000 was approved on a second resolution. This funding consists of $13,880,000 in financing and $4,000,000 in principal forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and it’s for planning, acquisition, design, and construction of a water system improvements project. The terms include a waiver of the requirement to include funds to mitigate water loss as part of this project.
For the time being, VBX is tracking these projects on an RFQ for engineering services: Project ID 2020-0CCB. However, as this progresses to the search for general contractors, it may split into two or more projects.
Wastewater Improvement Project:
A portion of the Pharr’s lift stations has reached the end of its intended design life and must be decommissioned or replaced.
Some of those lift stations fail during rain events, causing sewer overflows. Additionally, equipment at the wastewater treatment plant has been in service for approximately 40 years and is beyond its intended design life.
There is also an 8-inch force main that will be decommissioned is currently located within multiple residential properties outside the city’s rights-of-way and is a safety concern because the city is unable to service it.
The construction of new gravity sewer lines, new interceptor, and main lift station will allow the city to convey wastewater flows more reliably and efficiently.
The project consists of installing about 13,500 linear feet of gravity sewer lines and force mains; the decommissioning of three lift stations and a force main; construction of a new, larger main lift station; and improvements and upgrades to the existing wastewater treatment plant.
Upgrades to the plant include installing a new influent lift station, replacing headworks, repairing an oxidation ditch, upgrading a clarifier, and adding flow meters.
The project will help balanced the collection system by allowing conveyance of flows from areas with older sewer lines and lift stations to sewer mains that were constructed about 11 years ago as part of the City’s wastewater collection system project.
It will also alleviate heavy flows in other areas of the system and allow the decommissioning of lift stations that have reached their design life.
The engineering feasibility report is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 8. The design phase documents are to be turned in Feb. 1, 2021. Construction is expected to begin by June 1, 2021 and reach completion Sept. 24, 2022.
Wastewater Project Budget:
Construction subtotal: $15,106,000
Engineering / Design: $1,700,000
Special Services: $446,500
Fiscal Services: $1,204,162
The Pharr Water Plant & Lab is adjacent to a raw water supply reservoir and canal. Undeveloped land adjacent to the plant must be acquired for a WTP improvement project. Image: Google Earth.
Water Improvement Project:
Pharr currently operates a 19 million-gallon-per-day (MGD) surface water treatment plant (WTP).
The existing raw water reservoir–located next to the city’s treatment plant, 1000 S. Bluebonnet, and within the footprint of the facility–has a storage capacity of approximately 70 million gallons, which provides approximately eight days of raw water storage under current water demand of about 8.4 MGD.
Raw water from the Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 2’s water supply canal enters the city’s raw water reservoir and is considered part of the water treatment process. The reservoir acts as the initial treatment stage where settlement occurs, reducing turbidity ahead of the raw water pump station.
The reservoir is routinely dredged to manage turbidity and optimize the treatment process. If the reservoir was not in use, modifications to the plant would be required, such as expanding the rapid mix basin to handle higher sediment loads.
This project addresses several operational deficiencies that are expected to worsen and cause difficulties in meeting standards as water demand increases. Also, the city’s existing raw water storage capacity of about eight days is insufficient to meet the 21 days of storage required under its contract with Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 2.
Additionally, the existing Eldora elevated storage tank doesn’t have a dedicated transmission main, resulting in delays filling the tank to capacity and impacting the water distribution service as water demand increases.
The project consists of upgrades and improvements at the city’s water treatment plant to address deficiencies and improve its performance and reliability, expansion of the raw water reservoir from eight to 21 days of storage, and installation of a dedicated transmission main directly to the Eldora elevated storage tank from the WTP for improved operation.
WTP improvements will include upgrading the electrical system, modifying the sludge handling system to incorporate dewatering, installing baffle plates in the rapid mix basin, expanding the backwash pump station, and installing a larger filter-to-waste line.
To expand the raw water storage reservoir, the City will need to acquire additional land adjacent to the existing site.
To improve the Eldora elevated water storage tank’s operation, approximately 7,400 linear feet of 16-inch pipeline will be installed to create a dedicated transmission main from the WTP to the tank.
The project schedule calls for completion of the designs by Aug. 3 2021; the engineering report was completed March 11.
Construction is expected to begin Dec. 1, 2021 and reach completion Jan. 30, 2023.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.