The news represents clearance of a major hurdle on the road toward the possibility of building a new multi-million dollar water line that would traverse Harbor Island, providing more water to Port Aransas to accommodate future growth, according to Mark Young, manager of Nueces County Water Control and Improvement District No. 4.
The line, which could be a lynchpin for future growth on Mustang Island, would run from Aransas Pass to a point where the freshly inspected line dives beneath the ship channel.
“The line’s been in service for 43 years, and there’s never been an assessment done to it, and that’s a long time for infrastructure,” Young said. “But, it seems to have a lot of life left in it.”
If the line under the ship channel had turned out to be in bad enough shape, and if it had been determined to be infeasible to fix or replace it, water district officials could have been forced to rethink the plan to build the new line from Aransas Pass to the ship channel, Young said. That could have meant maybe building a new line from Corpus Christi down Padre and Mustang islands to Port Aransas instead of going the Harbor Island route, he said.
The line under the ship channel was constructed in 1969. Young said water district officials haven’t had any reason to believe there’s been anything wrong with the line, but it needed checking, because it was expected to be a critical part of the planned Harbor Island project, Young said.
The line runs 10 to 20 feet under the bottom of the channel, where water is about 45 feet deep.
The water district hired a firm, Wachs Water Services, which examined the inside of the line with a camera. The camera was inserted in one end of the line and then was directed throughout the length of the 2,000-foot line, shooting video along the way.
A small, parachute-like device was attached to the camera. By design, the parachute was caught in the flow of the water, pulling the camera along behind it.
The inspection was part of a study that the water district has commissioned to help decide whether and how the district might build the new line on Harbor Island.
A new line likely would be built alongside an older one and eventually might replace the existing line entirely, Young said. Built in 1969, the current line is 12 inches wide. The new one is envisioned to be 20 to 24 inches wide.
The study by Urban Engineering of Corpus Christi has been ongoing since the water district’s board of directors voted in December to approve spending up to $200,000 on efforts related to the proposed water line.
Young said he’s hoping to see the study finished by the end of this month.
The possibility of building the new line has been in the water district’s plans for a few years, but nothing is set in stone.
The water district provides Port Aransas and the rest of Mustang Island with all of the area’s drinking water. The water originates in Lake Texoma, Lake Corpus Christi and Choke Canyon Reservoir.
The district purchases its water, already treated, from the San Patricio Municipal Water District and the City of Corpus Christi.
About 70 percent of the water consumed in Port Aransas comes from a pipeline that runs from Corpus Christi down Padre and Mustang islands.
Some 30 percent of the water that flows into Port Aransas comes from two pipelines that come from Aransas Pass. One that’s made of steel runs under Redfish Bay. The other, made of a cement-fiber material, runs parallel to State Hwy. 361. Both meet at a point within the Harbor Island shipyard once operated by the McDermott company. Those two lines flow into the line that runs under the bottom of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
If a new line is built on Harbor Island, it might be done over a period of perhaps 10 years. Water demand and available funding will dictate when various phases go forward.
If the water district decides to go forward with the project, it could begin as soon as late summer this year, Young said . e
Th goal is to have Phase One of the project finished and in use by summer 2013, he said.
The water district’s goal is to build the new line without taxing, Young said. The district has a long-term plan to gradually raise water rates over a period of years to deal with rising expenses and to pay for the planned new line and other district capital projects and operations, Young said.
Rate increases could be as much as three to five percent each time, Young said, adding that the amount is typical in the industry, statewide.
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