The City of Bridge City’s new $1.4 million water filtration system is taking shape and nearing completion. An unidentified worker, at left, continues installing part of the piping used on the system. The large, white reclamation tank, in rear, is installed and ready to go online once system is active. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

The final pieces of a new water filtration system are coming together and the system will soon be online for its residents.

A much anticipated $1.4 million water filtration system is just weeks away from being put into operation and will eventually be the cure for a water quality issues which have plagued many residents of Bridge City for years.

Various components have been installed into the system in recent weeks, namely the reclamation tanks at each well location, and the installation of pipes at each well site is continuing.

According to Jerry Jones, city manager of Bridge City, the purpose of three units being installed at each well system is to remove iron and manganese from the city’s water supply. These two minerals have been the culprit for the city’s brown-water problem.

“When these three plants are put in operation, they will filter out the iron and manganese before it gets into the system,” Jones explained. “Up to this point we have been using tripolyphosphate, which encapsulates the iron and manganese to the sides of lines.

“The water would get dirty when we had reverse flows in the lines,” he continued. “A big cause of that would be breaks in the lines or if a fire hydrant got turned on to quickly.”

Plagued by weather issues through the first part of this year, Jones believes the water filtration system could be up in just a matter of weeks. However, when the system is brought online, the real work will just begin.

“Once we get this in operation here at the plant (Rachal Avenue), we will start flushing every line in Bridge City to get out the remaining iron and manganese,” Jones added. “This will stir the system up and there may be some dirty water. Some people who have never had brown water before may get some this time.”

Residents of city have become accustomed to the issues with the city’s current water system and its intermittent problems, most notably the water quality and its reports of brown water, which seemed to peak in 2014 and 2015, spurring the city to purchase the new water filtration system.

In a previous edition of The Record Newspapers, Jones said the source of the brown water was excessive iron and manganese, which he stated is “inherent in all deep well applications.”

According to the Penn State University Extension website, iron and manganese are metals which occur frequently in private water systems. Natural sources of iron and manganese are more common in deeper wells, where the water has been in contact with rock for a longer period of time.

Both iron and manganese are readily apparent in drinking water supplies and both impart a strong metallica taste and can cause staining. The orange-brown color from iron can stain sinks and laundry.

Iron and manganese are not health concerns in drinking water, according to the website. The minerals are effectively removed from water using a number of treatment processes, which the City of Bridge City currently utilizes. However, the new water filtration system will take care of that.

The new system will also aid the city in eliminating water waste as the reclamation tanks keep everything contained and re-use the water already in the system.

“This filtration system has an auto-backwash, which is similar to what a swimming pool has,” Jones explained. “It takes everything out of the water in the reclamation tank and pumps the water back out. The filter tank has mats in it and each is designed to remove the iron and the manganese. It can be changed to filter out whatever we want. If the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) were to ever makes changes and require us to remove something else, we could do that.”

The city has three well sites, which are located off FM 408, Romero and Rachal Avenue, which is the main plant. Jones said it is the main plant site which had the majority of iron and manganese, while FM 408 had minimal contaminants.

Jones said it may take up to six months for the system to be fully operations and free of any “brown-water” issues, but the wait will be well worth it.

“We will from the main plant towards the outside of the city and then come back and start over,” he said. “Once we start this process and begin eliminating the brown water, then people can call us and tell us about any lingering dirty water issues. We will come out and take care of it.”