For The Record – Dave Rogers

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the city of Bridge City is putting forth one for 2017 that’s both big for its citizens and fairly obvious.

Make Bridge City’s water great again.

City Manager Jerry Jones says he expects the city’s new $1.4 million filtration system to be up and running by mid-year.

That’s good news to Bridge City residents, who have complained for several years of brown water coming from their taps.

State and local officials have said the rusty look to the water is caused by iron and manganese in the water, metals the new filtration system seeks to control.

“TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) told us to go ahead and start the 120-day field test of the filtration system,” Jerry Jones, city manager for Bridge City, said recently.

“I look for the thing to be up and running sometime in January.”

The field test (also called a pilot program) would run on two of the city’s three active wells.

“During the startup and pilot test, we’ll be doing tests on a regular basis and we’ll be submitting results to TCEQ on the water quality we’re getting out of the filters.”

The results of the field test would allow for fine-tuning the system’s chemicals.

Filtronics is a California-based company that won a $1 million bid in 2015 to install the new system at the three wells.

Napco Chemical of Spring, Texas, is providing the chemicals. Other regional companies provided piping and tanks required.

Unexpected delays in the installation occurred after it was found that Filtronics had not obtained all the proper permitting from TCEQ and the state.

That problem has since been remedied.

A secondary, more alarming issue, surfaced late last summer.

TCEQ required the city to send letters to its 3,800 water customers notifying them the city violated the maximum contaminant level for total trihalomethanes, a byproduct of the chlorine used to disinfect water.

The July 26 letter said TTHMs, if consumed in excess, could cause liver and kidney problems. It could also increase the risk for getting cancer.

Jones, who has maintained all along that the water is safe to drink, said city water has met TCEQ’s approved standards for TTHMs levels since the fall.

“The last samples that we got back on the TTHMs were at 50, which is well below the maximum (safe level) of 80,” he said, the numbers reflecting parts per billion.

And he says it appears citizens are seeing the progress being made.

“We’ve gotten almost no calls on dirty water in quite a while,” Jones said.

“The thing everybody was so upset about – the TTHM levels – are down. They have been.”

Workers found breaks in the cement casing of a third well had allowed saltwater intrusion and that well was taken off line.

Cameras were lowered into the well to locate problem spots and samples have been taken from different levels to determine the severity of the problem and how best to resolve it.

Jones says line breaks and the opening of fire hydrants can cause cloudy water as they reverse the flow of the water in the pipes and dislodge sediment.

“We’re also in the process of developing a program so that once filters are put on line and working correctly, we can flush our entire system,” he said.