For the first time since it was built in 1948, the Texas City Reservoir that provides a backup water supply for Galveston County is getting a major renovation.
The Gulf Coast Water Authority’s reservoir off Attwater Avenue was built with corrugated metal pipes allowing water to flow in and out, said James Vanderwater, district engineer at the authority.
But corrugated metal rusts and the pipes are nearing the end of their life, so several years ago the authority began exploring the idea to replace them.
The authority hired engineering company Freese and Nichols to draft designs, and late last year the board approved a $12 million bond to begin construction to replace 14 corrugated metal pipes with concrete mortar pipes encased in fiberglass, Vanderwater said.
Construction began in November and is expected to be completed in early 2018, he said. The Texas City Reservoir project is aimed at ensuring reliability, officials said.
“These are the reserves for everyone in Galveston County,” Vanderwater said.
The project is one of several the authority is working on to ensure a stable water supply for its customers in Texas City and throughout Galveston County.
On July 19, the authority had a groundbreaking ceremony for construction on another project to build a new pump station to push untreated, surface water to five Texas City industrial customers. The companies use the water to keep the refineries and equipment running cool.
The 900-acre reservoir holds about 7,000 acre feet of water, the volume of about 3,500 Olympic-size swimming pools. It’s filled with water from the Brazos River, which is carried by canals originating on the river.
The authority keeps about a 25-day supply of water needed for its industrial customers and area water treatment plants in case a drought or other emergency dried up the canals and choked off the supply of surface water.
Ashland Inc., a chemical company across the street from the reservoir, also relies on the water supply, Vanderwater said.
The Texas City hurricane protection levee runs along at least one side of the reservoir providing a wall between the reservoir and nearby businesses, including Ashland and a Galveston County probation office.
On Tuesday, construction crews were preparing to pour concrete on structures that will house intake and outflow pipes along the reservoir. Crews built massive sheet pile retaining walls around the intake and outflow structures to keep reservoir water from rushing in.
Crews had removed the old pipes at one of the intakes and were replacing them.
The crews have been working in sections to keep the reservoir accessible in case the reserves are needed, Vanderwater said. The project likely will be completed in the next six months, he said.