Coalition partners meet over BP settlement
David Ball – For The Record
Some local governmental entities met to restore the Texas coastline.
The meeting was held on September 15 at Lamar University in the University Theater Building. The focus was to serve as a Listening Session. According to www.restorethetexascoast.org, Commissioner Toby Baker, Texas designee to the federal RESTORE Council, is hosting four Listening Sessions along the coast in September. The purpose of the Listening Sessions is to give the public an opportunity to comment on the priorities for the Texas coast as they move forward with implementing the federal RESTORE Act and distributing RESTORE funds.
Specifically the public is invited to comment on the Priorities Document, which outlines the criteria for awarding RESTORE funds and is based on elements of grant review processes currently accepted by the Federal government.
Also, a Framework document has been developed to facilitate the discussion of the implementation of the RESTORE Act in Texas. Among other things, the Framework document describes the importance of a healthy coastal community on both the environment and economy of Texas and the United States.
Congress passed the RESTORE Act to protect and restore the natural and economic resources of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Gulf Coast. The Act was passed in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill to provide funding for coastal restoration and recovery for the affected Gulf Coast states: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The environmental and economic injuries caused by the spill were extensive. The legal aftermath of the spill will require the parties responsible to pay substantial damages to address these injuries. Through the RESTORE Act, Congress allocated 80 percent of the administrative and civil penalties related to the spill to the states and the federal government to restore and revitalize the Gulf Coast. A portion of the RESTORE Act allocation comes directly to Texas. This document builds a framework for implementing coastal restoration and revitalization under RESTORE.
The following are some of the priorities for the entities involved:
Orange Interlocal Group Combined Project List
Project Sponsor Project type Time to complete Cost Local match
Bridge City Waterfront Park/Museum 7-12 months $2,053,589 $1,440,000
City of Orange Water Distribution & Well 7-12 months $3,247,000 $0
City of Pinehurst Install Electronic Metering 4-6 months $682,075 $0
City of Pinehurst Replace Sewer Lines 4-6 months $2,017,586 $0
City of Pinehurst Sewer Line Replacement 4-6 months $873,814 $0
City of Vidor Surface water quality 1-5 years $29,000,000 $0
Orange County WCI#2 Sanitary Sewer Project 7-12 months $1,800,000 $0
Orange County WCI#2 Sewer Line Replacement 7-12 months
Orange County WCI#2 Sewer Plant Equipment 7-12 months $1,200,000 $0
Orange County WCI#2 Stormwater Retention 7-12 months $1,200,000 $0
Orange County WCI#2 Wastewater Collection 7-12 months $1,300,000 $0
Orange County WCI#2 Water Meter Readers 4-6 months $1,100,000 $0
Orange County WCI#2 Standby Generators 4-6 months $1,500,000 $0
Orangefield Water SC Water meter reading 7-12 months x $0
Orangefield Water SC Victory Gardens water 1-5 years $6,000,000 $3,000,000
Orangefield Water SC Victory Gardens sewer 7-12 months $8,900,000 $5,340,000
Port of Orange Study of Bird Is. Barrier 1-5 years $750,000 $0
Port of Orange Removal of Barge 237 7-12 months $2,000,000 $0
Port of Orange Removal of WWII Piers 1-5 years $4,000,000 $0
Port of Orange Sabine River W. Shore 1-5 years $17,000,000 $0
SRA-Orange Interlocal Regional Waste Water 1-5 years $50,000,000 $0
Total for 21 Projects $134,624,064 $9,780,000
BP restoration request $124,844,064
1. Bridge City: Waterfront Park and Museum
Bridge City seeks to build a city park, natural area, and international wildlife interpretive museum on four acres of land along Cow Bayou that it received as a donation ($940,000) from philanthropist Tony Houseman and his family.
2. City of Orange: Water Distribution System and Water Well
The City of Orange completed a “Water Distribution System and Water Well Site Study” in partnership with the engineering firm of PBS&J – Houston, which targeted the western part of the city near Interstate 10 and State Highway 62. The purpose of the study was to position the city with new water capacity for the purpose of economic development and to promote tourism. There are several hotel and retail properties along Highway 62 and commercial sites available for development along Interstate 10.
3. City of Pinehurst: Installation of electronic meter reading system.
The project would replace existing water meters with new ones with electronic transmitters for automated readings. Project also establishes automated meter reading infrastructure such as radio towers, handheld receivers and software. New meters will assist the city with more accurate accounting of water produced and sold, and also promotes water conservation by users. 7-12 months to completion. Project is consistent with Texas Water Conservation Plan. Cost $682,075.
4. City of Pinehurst: Replacement of Private Sewer Service Lines from Single Family Dwellings
A project for the city to be placed on the Deepwater Horizon restoration list would be to replace private service lines to the city’s main sewer lines. The city has just recently done smoke testing and found many leaks on the property owner’s side of the line. This allows storm water infiltration and other garbage getting into the sewer lines, eventually to the plant and then much of it goes to Adams Bayou and on to The Sabine River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico.
5. City of Pinehurst: Replacement of Antiquated Sewer Lines and Manholes along West Park Avenue
This project seeks to eliminate storm water from entering the city’s sewer system. Project success will stop sewerage leakage that eventually ends up untreated in Adams Bayou which supports marine life, the Shangri-La Botanical Gardens and Bird Sanctuary, and important wetlands. The impaired waters eventually enter into the Sabine River and finally into the Gulf of Mexico. The Sabine River is the largest contributor of fresh water into the Gulf from Texas.
6. Orange County Water Control & Improvement District 2: Sanitary Sewer Project
The project involves construction of wastewater treatment plant discharge outfall to Sabine River. The resulting elimination of load from the District in the current discharge water body, Adams Bayou, will enhance goals of Total Maximum Daily Load study and stream segment permit requirements. Discharge into the Sabine River also positions the treatment plant to accept sewer flow from neighboring City of Pinehurst in the event a regional treatment system is not fully implemented or that is implemented in stages. Removing load from Pinehurst by eliminating that entity’s flow into Adams Bayou also furthers the Implementation Plan’s TMDL goals. Time to completion 7-12 months. Cost $1,800,000.
7. Orange County Water Control & Improvement District 2: Sanitary Sewer Service Line Replacement
This project provides for replacement of the sanitary sewer service lines from the existing clean out at the Right of Way to the homeowners clean out at the residence. Inflow and Infiltration (I/I) is a severe problem which affects the treatment of wastewater by introducing additional flow to the treatment facility. A large percentage of the I/I introduced to the system presently comes from private service lines. By installing new service lines I/I can be reduced thereby reducing the possibility of introducing unplanned flow to the treatment plant that would cause the plant to go over the permitted flows. Due to the expense and the lack of financial resources available to many District customers, these line replacements often require the expenditure of non-customer resources in order to achieve the District’s desired benefits. Time to completion is 7-12 months. The project is consistent with the Texas Water Conservation Plan.
8. Orange County Water Control & Improvement District 2: Sewer Plant Equipment Upgrades
Project involves sewer treatment plant equipment modifications, upgrades and replacement, including elevation of critical components above flood level such as motors, pumps and electrical systems. Completion time is 7-12 months. Project consistent with State of Texas water conservation plan. The cost is $1,200,000.
9. Orange County Water Control & Improvement District #2: Increase Capacity for Stormwater Retention
The project will increase capacity of the district’s stormwater retention infrastructure, including but not necessarily limited to constructing an additional holding pond with ancillary equipment such as valves, pumps and control devices, in order to regulate flow rate into Wastewater Treatment Plant and prevent excessive flows. The added capacity enhances existing system and also will serve as an added component for any regional facility for high-volume event management. The time to completion is 7-12 months. The project is consistent with the Texas Water Conservation Plan. Cost is $1,200,000.
10. Orange County Water Control & Improvement District 2: Wastewater Collection System Rehabilitation
This project provides for the rehabilitation of existing sanitary sewer lines throughout the District. Replacement of existing sewer lines would be expected to reduce the amount of I/I into the system, reduce the man hours spent making repairs to old lines and help in preventing sanitary sewer overflows or spills. This project also includes rehabilitation of the Burnet Street lift station and lift station No. 45. Rehabilitation of the Burnet Street lift station consists of replacement of one of the existing pumps and repair of the existing 2” force main. Rehabilitation of lift station No. 45 will consist of cleaning out the heavy accumulation of grease in the wet well which causes the pumps not to operate correctly. Time to project completion is 7-12 months, it is consistent with the Texas Water Conservation Plan and the cost is $1,300,000.
11. Orange Country Water Control & Improvement District 2: Water Meter Reader System
This project provides for the removal and replacement of the existing water meters with new water meters equipped with electronic transmitters for automated meter reading. It would also involve establishing an automated meter reading infrastructure or capability, such as radio towers, handheld receivers, and suitable software. Replacing the existing analog meters with the new meters will assist the District in maintaining a more accurate accounting of the water produced and sold, and also promote water conservation by the users. Because the District obtains its water from underground aquifers, reduced consumption should contribute to decreased pressure on the aquifers thus delaying or preventing the need to secure surface water supplies. In turn, reducing potential demand for surface water supplies should correlate to increased surface water flows to be available for environmental use such as water quality in Sabine Lake, a mixed-salinity outlet of the Gulf of Mexico. Time to completion is 4-6 months. Consistent with Texas Water Conservation Plan. Estimated cost is $1,100,000.
12. Orange County Water Control & Improvement District 2: Standby Generators
This project will provide for installation of permanent standby generators and fuel sources at the existing lift stations and well sites operated by the District. Installation of permanent generators including automatic transfer switches will allow the District to maintain operation of their infrastructure in the event of loss of power due to natural or power company service interruptions. Maintaining the operation of the lift stations will help prevent sanitary sewer backups and overflows which pose a health hazard and contribute to environmental runoff into the Gulf of Mexico. Maintaining the water wells in operation insures a constant supply of potable water to the residents of the District. Completion time is 4-6 months. The project is consistent with the Texas Water Conservation Plan and would cost $1,500,000.
13. Orangefield Water Supply Company: Water Meter Reader System
Replacement of existing water meters with new ones with electronic transmitters for automated readings. Project also establishes automated meter reading infrastructure such as radio towers, handheld receivers and software. New meters will assist corporation with more accurate accounting of water produced and sold, and also promotes water conservation by users. 7-12 months to completion. Project is consistent with Texas Water Conservation Plan.
14. Orangefield Water Supply Company: Victory Gardens Water Service
Provide first time water service to 500 families living within Victory Gardens subdivision. Project includes asset management plan preparation and alleviates water pollution and health hazards of poorly designed water wells and septic tanks. 1-5 years to completion. Project consistent with Texas Water Conservation Plan. Corporation offers 50 percent match for the $6 million total cost, BP restoration request $3 million.
15. Orangefield Water Supply Company: Victory Gardens Sanitary Sewer
Provides first time sewer service through installation and collection system in Victory Gardens subdivision with 500 connections using vacuum pump technology and allow removal of permitted discharges into Cow Bayou. Project will allow for the decommissioning of failing on-site septic tanks which is a non-point pollution source into Cow Bayou. The plan calls for piping effluent to the Neches River 7 miles from the sewer plant. Time to project completion: 7-12 months. Project is consistent with the Texas Water Conservation Plan. Sixty percent of the $8.9 million project is from local funding, the BP restoration request total is $3,573,600.
16. Sabine River Authority and Orange Interlocal Partners: Regional Wastewater Treatment Implementation Plan for TMDLs in Adams Bayou, Cow Bayou and tributaries in Eastern Orange County
The project supported by multiple partners and submitted for restoration investment supports construction of a Regional Wastewater plant for Eastern Orange County provides a strategy for combining flows from five existing wastewater treatment facilities into two larger facilities for waste treatment and discharge into the Sabine River. The existing City of Orange WWTF would be utilized as a regional wastewater treatment plant and upgraded to accommodate the wastewater flows from the City of West Orange and recently annexed areas in the City of Orange thus removing the point source discharges from Adams Bayou. The City of Orange currently discharges treated wastewater by permit into the Sabine River. The second leg of the regional wastewater plan includes construction of a new regional wastewater plant for treatment of the wastewater from the City of Bridge City, City of Pinehurst, and Orangefield WSC. Thus additional point source discharges would then be eliminated from Adams Bayou and Cow Bayou. The infrastructure needed to connect these regional wastewater treatment facilities would provide access to several areas of Orange County where failing septic systems could be connected to the regional system for wastewater treatment.
The benefits of regionalization of the wastewater treatment in eastern Orange County will provide for:
1. Removal of point sources from Wastewater Treatment Facilities that currently discharge in to the impaired streams
2. Ensure compliance with permit limitations of existing facilities
3. Reduce/eliminate sanitary sewer overflows from existing WWTF.
4. Minimize non-point source loading from failing OSSF by connecting them to the regional infrastructure
5. Implement the No. 1 strategy for dealing with the TMDL water quality issues based upon the I-Plan submitted for TCEQ & EPA approval
This coordinated effort will include local stakeholders, TCEQ, Texas State Soil and Water Control Board (TSSWCB), the Sabine River Authority of Texas (SRA-TX), and other local wastewater treatment providers. The reduction of loads from point sources entering the bayous would require extensive increases in treatment that would be less cost effective than redirecting the waste load to an alternate water body. In 2009, a study was conducted to determine the feasibility of regionalizing wastewater treatment in the project area. The SRA-TX, City of Orange, City of Pinehurst, City of Bridge City, Orangefield Water Supply Corporation (OWSC), and the Orange County Water Control Improvement District were the main entities involved in the effort to study a regional wastewater treatment system. Although there are significant advantages to regionalization, funding limitations to cover the large geographic area present challenges for implementation of the system. The project follows the adoption of an Implementation Plan by TCEQ and the US EPA for the reduction of bacteria concentrations.
The cost is $50,000,000.
17. The Orange County Navigation & Port District has submitted four projects to the state’s RESTORE the Texas Coast website.
Project Name Completion Time Cost
Feasibility study of Bird Rookery Barrier Islands 1-2 years $750,000
Removal of Barge 237 beached by Hurricane Ike 7-12 months $2,000,000
Removal of World War II Piers in Sabine River 1-5 years $4,000,000
Sabine River West Shoreline armoring and wetland 1-5 years $17,000,000
18. Study of Bird Rookery & Barrier Island Creation
This project would study both the advisability and feasibility of creating a Bird Rookery & Barrier Island complex on the bank of the Sabine River in Texas waters adjacent to the Louisiana border, and extending south from the Sabine River mouth into northeastern Sabine Lake.
19. Removal of Barge #237
This project seeks the removal of Barge #237 that was grounded on Port of Orange property by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and abandoned by the owners. This barge contains residual amounts of heavy hydrocarbons used for asphalt that will discharge into the Sabine River watershed as the barge structure deteriorates.
20. Removal of World War II Piers on the Port of Orange’s former U.S. Navy property along the Sabine River
This project seeks funds to remove four former U.S. Navy piers consisting of 500+/- creosote coated pilings and submerged concrete decks. These piers were built in 1940 before the outbreak of World War II, used extensively during that war and by the Texas Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet during the Korean Conflict and later for ship berthing at the Orange Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility until 1975 when the Department of Defense announced that the facility would be closed.
21. Sabine River Shoreline Armoring & Wetland Restoration
This project calls for armoring the west shoreline of the Sabine Lake and the Sabine River with riprap and boulders from Middle Pass to Old River Cove (approx. 5.53 miles). The project’s purpose is to protect sensitive coastal marshlands along this stretch of the Chanier Plain ecosystem that are being continuously eroded by wave action from Sabine Lake and barge traffic in one of the nation’s busiest inland waterway routes.