Water projects continue as part of West University Place’s five-year capital improvement program.

City engineer Carol Harrison said that over the last few years, they’ve been taking a closer look at the city’s existing water system infrastructure and how it will support the city’s future needs.

  • An example of water supply needs occurred in July when city officials asked residents to conserve water due to an increase in water demand.

Three West U water systems that were discussed by City Council members and representatives from IDS Engineering Group included:

  • Milton Water Plant, built in 1957

  • Wakeforest Water Plant, built in 1991

  • Bellaire Elevated Storage Tank, built in 1935

The impact

In addition to aging infrastructure of the water plants, significant redevelopment has occurred in the city since the time the facilities were first constructed, Harrison said.

As a public water utility, the city is required to meet Texas Commission on Environmental Quality system requirements. While the city is able to meet the water supply and storage capacity requirements, Harrison said, at the current time, the system is not able to meet service pumping capacity requirements, which is the ability to meet peak hourly demands while the largest pump is out of service. Such inability is a driving factor more for water system improvements, she said.

City Manager Dave Beach said currently West U doesn’t meet TCEQ requirements because they don’t have a spare pump at the plant to meet peak demand.

The details

The CIP projects from 2023-27 lists replacing the Bellaire Elevated Storage Tank, a 750,000-gallon water tank that was constructed in 1935 and will be torn down and replaced by one of similar dimensions and capacity. Before that happens, it will cost nearly $100,000 for IDS to perform a detailed evaluation of the storage tank, according to agenda documents. Half of the study costs will go toward doing the field inspection and the engineering analysis is the other half of costs, Harrison said.

Beach said the study is about the integrity of the tank and the tower. The report, he said, will allow officials to know how much time is left to utilize the nearly 90-year-old tower in its current state as well as provide officials with recommendations on repairs. The report is estimated to take between 18-22 weeks.

“We’ll all have a greater degree of comfort making a decision on the tank,” Beach said.

Replacement of the Bellaire Elevated Storage Tank is an estimated $4.5 million project that will be funded through water revenue bonds, according to the CIP document. The Wakeforest Water Plant distribution line replacement will run through 2024-25. Improvements, which means upsizing the distribution line, will increase water pressure, according to the CIP documents, even if the additional pump station isn’t complete.

Residents will see better water pressure, Harrison said.

“Just doing this project by itself without any of the other projects substantially improves the pressure on the east side of town because those existing lines today are very undersized,” she said.

Wakeforest Plant has been in service since 1991, and upgrades include replacing the exterior coating systems and performing and vent and pipework, which budgeted is $1.1 million.

Estimated project costs are:

  • Wakeforest distribution line: $8.4 million

  • Wakeforest Plant upgrades: $2.8 million

  • New water well: $6.5 million

  • Milton Plant upgrades that don't include replacement costs: $5.7 million

Looking forward

Aa design work continues, project costs will be refined, Beach said.

How we got here

2020: IDS Engineering Group prepared a water capacity report that included inventory of water supply facilities and an assessment of the water supply capacity.

2021: Engineering consulting firm Freese & Nichols completed a water system assessment and developed a hydraulic water model, conducted water system capacity analysis and provided recommendations for water system improvements. Beach said this report recommended that the city needs a third water pump station.

2022: IDS presented additional water modeling study was performed to identify and prioritize projects that aim to improve the city’s water system resiliency.

July 24: IDS updated West U City Council on completed projects as well as possible improvements to the city’s water distribution system.

Nov. 6: IDS provided West U City Council with updates on the city’s new water well, distribution line improvements from the Wakeforest Plant and improvements on the Milton and Wakeforest water plants.