12/26/18 9:30am

NEEDVILLE WATER TOWER WILL STAY STANDING FOR NOW ON ACCOUNT OF IT MIGHT BE COVERED IN LEAD Needville’s city council appeared unmoved by local preservationists’ 2-year campaign to repaint and rehab the town’s signature WWII-era water tower earlier this month when it voted 3-2 to demolish the, um, patinaed structure. But just last Friday, 2 people with land near the tower took a new approach to preserving it, arguing in district court that the structure’s worth saving not just for its looks but because lab tests, their attorney wrote, showed that its exterior “was coated with six layers of lead-based paint,” each containing a high level of the chemical. A temporary restraining order granted against the City of Needville the same day now bars anyone from toppling the tower until “safety protocols are established by competent experts,” to ensure that “no environmental contamination” will result from the teardown. (“The contractor hired by the city council is a nice guy,” one of the plaintiffs, Rick Sinclair, told the Chronicle’s Kristi Nix, “but I don’t believe he is licensed or accredited to handle this level of lead abatement.”) A hearing to consider the lawsuit is now set for January 19. According to the plaintiffs, “Restoration coating systems have been identified” that would protect the tower while also sealing in the lead. [abc13] Video: Picture Perfect Productions

11/16/16 11:00am

CITY TRACKING DOWN THE LEAD IN CITY HALL’S DRINKING FOUNTAINS, EYEING OTHER DOWNTOWN FAUCETS city-hall-bigThe city is planning to check in on the water at other buildings downtown, Scott Noll reports, in the wake of those lead tests KHOU did on drinking water from just City Hall and the City Hall Annex buildings last week. Those tests turned up lead levels so high above federal limits in at least 1 fountain that the city has shut them all off (and cleaned out the ice machines) while more extensive testing is done on the system. City spokesperson Janice Evans says city testing a few years ago didn’t show concern-worthy lead levels, but the fountains will stay off while the source of the current problem is traced out: “Is it the pipes? Is it the drinking fountains? Is it water coming into the building? It could be [any of the 3] options. There’s a lot of deferred maintenance in this building.”  [KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo of City Hall: City of Houston

05/15/14 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DON’T YOU DARE TAKE OUR DALLAS SEWAGE AWAY Effluent Flows Along Trinity River“More and more cities (recently, San Antonio) are applying for permits to close the loop, and reuse their own treated effluent that their wastewater treatment plants previously discharged into rivers. With most cities in Texas scrambling to find more water sources, and at higher costs, this is the future. The problem is, all of the downstream cities depend on those effluent return flows for their own water systems. In the future, Houston could be going to court to try to force Dallas to keep sending its poop water down the Trinity!” [Semper Fudge, commenting on Yes, You’ve Been Sipping What Dallas Has Been Flushing] Illustration: Lulu

02/20/13 11:00am

The same architecture firm that transformed Wilshire Village into the H-E-B Montrose Market across town has been pegged to redo 1910 International Coffee Company Building (aka Sunset Coffee Building), resuscitating the derelict shell on Allen’s Landing into use as a Downtown tourist attraction and kayak rental shop. San Antonio firm Lake Flato submitted this drawing of the building at the coffee-with-cream-colored confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayou underneath Main and Fannin to Buffalo Bayou Partnership, which plans to begin the project in April.

Rendering: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

09/02/11 10:49am

A division of a Houston company called PowerMax Green Technologies (which may or may not be related to this Florida company with a similar name and similar products) is hoping to set up a manufacturing plant in Hitchcock to build atmospheric water generators, or machines for extracting drinking water from humid air. Even better: Galveston County Daily News reporter Laura Elder has identified the site the company is interested in as the former Blimp Base at 7526 Blimp Base Rd., just off FM 2004 — where the Navy once developed and stored blimps for spotting German submarines in WWII, and which is now an approved Foreign Trade Zone. Officials with the Green Environmental Management have been meeting with area officials about their plans to build 2 facilities totaling 160,000 sq. ft., Elder reports.

Site photo: The Blimp Base

08/16/11 8:29am

AND THE WINNER OF THE LOCAL WATER-USE RESTRICTIONS DERBY IS . . . League City, with these dry, dry, Stage 5 drought prohibitions: No washing your car; no refilling your pool; no spraying water for dust control; restaurants can’t bring diners water unless they ask for it; and no running those sprinklers or garden hose, day or night. Also in the no-watering-your-lawn-no-matter-what-day-it-is zone: Galveston [KHOU 11 News; restrictions]

08/15/11 10:05am

LOWERING EXPECTATIONS ON LAKE CONROE Once Houston starts drawing water from the Montgomery County reservoir to stabilize levels in Lake Houston — as it is expected to do, for the first time in 23 years, as early as this Tuesday — the water level on Lake Conroe will likely drop between 3 and 4 inches per week. That’s on top of the typical rate of evaporation from the lake during the hot summer months — also about 3 or 4 inches per week. On Friday, the San Jacinto River Authority reported Lake Conroe was already 4 ft. below its normal levels — only a foot above its lowest level ever, during the drought of 1988. [Click2Houston] Photo: San Jacinto River Authority

04/22/10 2:03pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR SHARE OF THE SOG “1 inch of rain falling on 1 acre of land equals roughly 27,154 gallons of water. The City of Houston is roughly 600 square miles, or 384,000 acres (as there are 640 acres in 1 square mile). So 1 inch of rain on the City of Houston gives about 10,427,136,000 gallons of water. With 50 inches of annual rainfall, that comes out to 521,356,800,000 gallons of water a year. All of it freely provided by the heavens. The City of Houston has 2.2 million people. So each person essentially gets 236,980 gallons of ‘free’ rainfall a year.” [Random Poster, commenting on Flushing for Dollars]

04/22/10 11:00am

FLUSHING FOR DOLLARS Houston’s City Council voted 12-3 yesterday to hike water and sewer rates for single-family homes by 27.7 percent, with the first increases beginning June 1: “Water rates for apartments will go up nearly 24 percent and businesses will see a nearly nine percent hike. However, single families will have gradual increases over three years until they are paying the full 100 percent cost of use, whereas apartments and business have to start paying that full cost right away.” [abc13]

06/14/07 11:44am

One of the more fascinating EPA Superfund sites in the Houston area is a neighborhood off Jones Road just north of FM1960. Residents who had earlier appreciated how convenient it was to drop off their dry cleaning at nearby Bell Cleaners began to regret that benefit in 2002 when the TCEQ announced that the local drinking water was laced with nasty levels of dry-cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, or PCE.

That was bad. But now it’s even worse: These residents will now be prohibited from drilling their own wells to drink the local groundwater!

Coalition members said they recently learned Harris County officials would not allow anymore water wells to be drilled in the Jones Road Superfund site, which covers the Evergreen Woods and Edgewood Estates neighborhoods west of Jones Road and north of FM 1960, and some commercial properties east of Jones Road.

“We understand that Harris County is putting health concerns above everything else, but several residents out here believed they could drill another well into a deeper aquifer if they needed to, and now that is not an option,” said Jones Road Coalition board member Ron O’Farrell.

According to a Houston Chronicle story, only 124 out of approximately 400 neighborhood property owners signed up for a proposed pipeline to bring uncontaminated drinking water into the area. But now, after a Harris County order banning new wells—and the recent discovery of trace elements of vinyl chloride in existing residential wells—some residents are saying they want to re-open the signup period.

Why were they so reluctant to sign up for a supply of nontoxic water in the first place?

Coalition members said there are two primary reasons some residents are concerned about signing the agreement that would allow them to hook up to the water pipeline. One clause in that agreement requires residents to permanently cap their individually owned groundwater wells, and the other gives the state unlimited access to their property during the project and remediation effort.

“I would not mind paying a fee for the tap and paying a plumber, or whomever it takes, on my own to tap in to the pipeline as long as I don’t have to sign the agreement ad give them complete access to my land,” said Donald Haus, and Edgewood Estates resident.