Tasted Brazos River water out of your faucet?
By Elsa Maxey
Not quite two years ago the Fort Bend County Water Control and Improvement District (WCID) No. 2 broke ground and today, its customers are drinking surface water from the Brazos River that has undergone treatment and filtration in Fort Bend’s first surface water treatment plant.
Built by LEM Construction with 2006 bonds approved by district customers, the less than $15 million plant’s ribbon cutting took place last Friday, April 29, in Stafford on Fifth Street. That is where the newly named James Williams plant is located and it signals the county’s commitment to meet state regulatory mandates to substitute surface water for groundwater that comes out of wells. The water conversion of Fort Bend County WCID No. 2 is part of the Fort Bend Subsidence District’s effort to meet the requirements calling for a 30 percent conversion by 2012 and 60 percent by 2025. With this new plant, residents and businesses in Stafford, part of Missouri City, and other extraterritorial jurisdictions are already well on their way.
Water district General Manager Owen Matherne said Fort Bend County WCID No. 2 was created in 1946, and it began planning for surface water conversion in 1985, when Jones and Carter Engineers recommended it. Matherne spoke about the importance of conversion to prevent subsidence that contributes to flooding and to also provide for high quality alternative drinking water. At the event, one of the district’s past presidents, Fred Ross, was commended for having bought the plant’s 80 acres next to a Gulf Coast Water Authority canal at an auction back in 1996. Water district board officials and event speakers Martin Saldua and James Williams were followed by the ribbon cutting and tours of the plant facilities.
Debbie Bennett, Jenny Michelle and Mark Williams, children of district’s board president, after whom the facility was named, were special guests at the ceremony. Michelle shared childhood memories of what was probably her father’s first water project—unclogging a commode where she placed her play teapot set.
Fort Bend WCID No. 2 will be holding a bond referendum on May 14 for repair, upgrade, and future growth projects amounting to $31.9 million. Matherne said that when voters approved the bonds that financed the construction of the surface water treatment plant, which “belongs to all of you,” he said at the ribbon cutting, and other projects, the district has been able to accomplish them without a tax increase. “Along the same lines as what is proposed with the projects to be included with the bonds our customers will vote on this May,” he said.
More surface water treatment plants will be constructed in Fort Bend County. Those under construction include one in Missouri City, Sugar Land, and the Pecan Grove area.