Meadows Place wows audience at 28th annual Water Symposium
By Karen Daniels
On September 17th in Denver, Colorado, Mayor Charles Jessup and Public Works Director, Dan McGraw, gave a presentation at the 28th Annual “Watereuse Symposium.” The topic, No City is Too Small for Water Reuse, is something the City of Meadows Place, a city less than one square-mile, knows a lot about. Their presentation was slated for twenty minutes of lecture and ten minutes of questions, however, the questions’ segment was extended by thirty minutes due to audience interest, which spilled over to the entire hour. From basic questions to the more complex, other cities were intrigued (and a little shocked) that a project of this magnitude, involving other agencies, could be accomplished.
How was it done? Mayor Jessup said, “We got very creative and put in an amenity to use and love every day.” What started with a $75K grant to the Meadows Place Parks Department from Texas Parks & Wildlife, turned into an award winning 1.5 acre lake with two wetlands and walking trail with hills. Most importantly, this project addressed the issue of subsidence. Meadows Place (along with other cities in Fort Bend County) is sinking. Since 1977 they have dropped 15 feet. When the parks department announced they wanted to use the money to build a lake that everyone could benefit from, Mayor Jessup realized they would not be able to pay the water usage fees to keep the lake filled. But he didn’t give up there. The Mayor approached Dan McGraw who knew exactly how to do it. Aside from outsourcing the plans and profile, all of the work to build their water plant was done in-house with a crew of three, 312 hours of meetings, and one year of planning. The project itself took three months during the height of the drought. Reclaimed water is now collected, cleaned and redeposited back into the lake, keeping the level constant.
Mayor Jessup stated, “Had the county not worked with us we couldn’t have done it.” Thanks to the cooperation of the Fort Bend County Road & Bridge and Texas Parks & Wildlife and the departments of Meadows Place Parks & Recreation and Public Works, the community now has a lake stocked with five different species of fish, attracting migratory birds and ducks to the area. To date, over 100 cities from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, and Norway have visited the Meadows Place to learn how they did it. They have been invited to speak at four upcoming conventions to share their information on how other small cities can accomplish this too.
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