The city of La Marque has landed a $350,000 state grant that will help it improve an aging distribution system that’s losing more than half the water passing through it, officials said.
The city council accepted the Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development Block Grant on Feb. 12 with the goal of updating aging water pipes and reducing the amount of water escaping the system, city officials said.
La Marque isn’t the only city dealing with aged, leaky water systems. Across Galveston County, the equivalent of nearly 3,000 Olympic-size swimming pools of water escapes from leaks or disruptions in distribution systems yearly, according to a previous Daily News analysis of water audit reports kept by the Texas Water Development Board.
La Marque is losing about 56 percent of its water to leaks and breaks in the system, according to a 2014 water loss audit report.
The grant will help pay for improving the existing water system and help the city expand the system to serve new residents moving in, Mayor Bobby Hocking said.
“We are in a building spurt, so we have some growing pains but that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “We are having to provide new services to the hundreds of homes coming in and replacing aging infrastructure. People deserve to have their sewer services updated as well.”
Repairing the water system would be a long-term project, Les Rumburg, the director of public services for La Marque, said.
“La Marque has a lot of infrastructure needs because the infrastructure has been ignored for several years and we’re playing catch up,” he said. “We had a study conducted last year that indicated that we needed to budget for the next 10 years to replace water lines.”
The city staff would make a plan about which water lines should be replaced in selected parts of town and it will be up to city council to approve that through the budget, Rumburg said.
La Marque was experiencing a problem common to older cities, Hocking said.
“We are currently in the process of replacing sewer lines in other places of town,” he said. “A lot of it is over 70 years old. Through the years, we are just going to have to replace all of it anyway.”