Polk County Publishing Company, P.O. Box 1267, Livingston, TX. 77351 - (936) 327-4357











Corrigan Times - Local News

Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company

 

Water Works department has an important job

 

By KELLY SHADIX
Special to the Times

CORRIGAN -- How would you obtain 5.5 million gallons of good clean drinking water and what would you do with 6.3 million gallons of waste water (sewage) a month? Ask City of Corrigan Water and Waste Water Utility Director Johnny Rushing, or Operator Andy Langston. These two licensed individuals, with the assistance of Buck Starling and part-time employee Felix Lopez, see to it that two things often taken for granted-- water from the faucet and the waste from drains and toilets—continue to run properly, safely and without interruption. To the 615 City of Corrigan Water customers, near 1600 residents not including businesses and visitors, water service appears reasonably effort-less. Simply turn on the faucet and out comes clean water to drink and cook with, bath or wash in. Much the same attitude applies to waste water. It merely disappears through the drain or is cleared with the push of a lever flushing the refuse on down the line...out of site and mind. The convenience is sanitary and seemingly effort-less. No longer is it necessary to “draw” or hand pump water from a personal well for use and “throw “ it out into the yard when finished. The use of the “outhouse”, its smell, and in-creased risk to the community for contamination and disease is a thing of the past. On the other hand, behind the scenes an enormous amount of effort is required to ensure that Corrigan receives these essential services. Regular monitoring and testing, with ongoing maintenance and repairs are necessary to comply with the mandatory environmental laws, statutes, and regulations administered by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Daily the City of Corrigan receives water from three wells, or plants, at a total average rate of 180,000 gallons per day. Chemical and mineral levels in the water must be tested and recorded each day, 365 days a year, by an operator holding a Double C License (Water and Waste Water Treatment Li-cense). Levels must fall within the values set forth as accept-able by TCEQ. Water is pulled from ground storage tanks to the elevated storage tanks by booster pumps. Once the elevated tanks are full they turn off by control panels within the tanks, or pressure switches. Weekly maintenance of the chlorinator is required due to a buildup of rust (Iron Manganese) in the water. This piece of equipment distributes the disinfectant chlorine proportionately. It is crucial that this device operate precisely. Each plant is equipped with a genera-tor which also requires weekly attention. The generator is manually started to ensure it is operable in the case of an emergency...such as a power outage due to a hurricane. Monthly, water samples are taken to Livingston to a lab where they are forwarded to the State for extensive testing. The daily reports must also be sent 2012The city then receives a re-port with the findings. If values are not within range, a course of action is recommended to correct the situation. The elevated water tanks must be inspected every year to see to that they are in good condition. Of the tallest tower--120 feet in the air--Johnny Rushing says, “It is a very good view of the City of Corrigan up there.” How-ever, he turned this feat over to a contractor a few years ago. The State conducts an inspection every three years, examining the water plants and waste water treatment plants. There are very specific and strict regulations that must be adhered to. Not only is the quality of water important, but also the appearance of each site. For example, tanks must be painted properly; fencing in place, and signage should be suitably placed. Now, what about that “waste” water, aka sewage? It’s down the drain or toilet. And while it may have dis-appeared from your home, it’s far from vanishing. On average the City of Corrigan Waste Water Treatment Plant processes 210,000 gallons of waste water a day. Anything that goes into a drain, whether it is household or street, or happens to be flushed down a toilet goes straight into the sewer lines. Unfortunately, items that could cause a great deal of harm to the equipment often find their way into these lines. Grease, bottles and hairpins and more are flushed down toilets. Various other items over the years have also been found in the system, such as gloves, rags, paper towels, money and even small animals and a baseball glove. Any of these items can stop up pumps and motors and often burn them up; replacing one pump is upwards of $5,000.Lift, or Pump Stations, of which there are 14 located throughout the city, each have two pumps for the purpose of “lifting” and sending the sewage” on down the line”. These stations must be checked every day making sure the alarms for operation are working cleaning grease off of probes. These probes control the operation of the pump. A flow meter is used to record sewer usage. All the lines come together at the Waste Water Treatment Plant/Sewer Plant. Here a multitude of de-vices are checked and cleaned, and any repairs completed. It is here that the real science occurs. It is imperative that the balance of waste water, air and bacteria (bugs) be consistently maintained. The Plant has a small lab where tests are performed for chlorine, pH, ammonia, flow and SS (Suspended Solids). This data is recorded and sub-mitted to TCEQ monthly. This site also has a chlorinator for final processing and discharge of by-product. Any results not within the city’s permit requirement must be reported to TCEQ for non-compliance. The city is given a specific amount of time to correct a violation. Unresolved violations can result in thousands of dollars in fines. As Utility Director, Johnny Rushing is primarily responsible for the operation of the Water and Waste Water Plants. Andy Langston is also licensed to per-form the tasks and fills in when necessary; otherwise he shares general duties. Both Johnny and Andy have been employed with the City of Corrigan for a number of years. Johnny has been instrumental in providing water service to the citizens of Corrigan for 32 years and Andy has 27 under his belt. “Buck” Starling, a 12 year City of Corrigan employee, is responsible for helping with general maintenance and repairs to the facilities, as well as other water related services. Felix Lopez maintains the grounds at each plant and lift station. He is also the city’s water meter reader and assists with repairs when needed. The Water Department is of-ten called to locate lines for construction, repair leaks, con10.5nect and disconnect water for customers and a myriad of other jobs. It is not uncommon for the men to be called away from regular testing, or maintenance and repairs to attend to these re-quests. Water and Sewer revenues average $42,000 a month with ac-count sizes ranging from a great deal of usage from a business such as Georgia-Pacific to very small single resident house-hold accounts that are merely charged the minimum monthly fee. Companies and contractors also purchase water from the city through Bulk/Whole-sale sales. Monies collected from the services provided by the water/sewer department are placed into the Enterprise fund, paying for maintenance and re-pairs to the Water/Waste Water System. Any excess funds are placed into the General Fund to assist with the city’s administrative costs, police department expenses, and maintenance and repairs to city buildings and streets. The City of Corrigan Water Works serves a dual purpose...delivering vital services to its citizens while providing a stream of revenue to the city. Both of which are essential in sustaining the residents and businesses of Corrigan. While it may not be the most pleasant of thoughts, it is worth remembering and appreciating the attentiveness that goes into providing the convenience and necessity of safe water and hygienic waste water processing. And perhaps, taking a little less for granted. The City of Corrigan Depart-mental Articles will conclude next week with the Public Works Department: Streets, Mainte-nance and Sanitation

 

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