Water tower brings clean water to La Bahia
By BY ERIN PRADIA - EPRADIA@VICAD.COM
Sept. 7, 2011 at 4:07 a.m.
La Bahia residents have access to public water for the first time since it was founded in 1829.
"La Bahia had no public water system at all until this project was started," said San Antonio River Authority Water Specialist Earl Henning, who services the water tower in La Bahia and the water towers in Fannin and Berclair.
In 2002, former County Judge Harold Gleinser came across incomplete documentation to begin Goliad County Water Supply Corporation to provide clean drinking water to residents of Goliad County. Gleinser completed the documentation and appointed a voluntary board consisting of one member from each of the five precincts in Goliad County.
Prior to the new water systems, residents had individual wells and septic systems on their property, which had a great potential for contamination because of seepage. Residents also experience increased water pressure under the new system - a plus.
The GWSC received state grants to build water towers in Berclair and Fannin, but La Bahia did not qualify for a state grant.
In 2006, U.S. Rep. Reuben Hinojosa aided the GWSC in procuring a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a water tower in La Bahia.
The GWSC board hired SARA to provide technical and financial assistance. Customers pay the GWSC directly, and they pay SARA for operation and management of the water systems.
While the USDA grant was approved in 2008, complications delayed construction until 2010.
Henning said when the well was completed, SARA tested to find the optimal place to draw water from the 600-foot well in the new water tower. The optimal area to draw water from is 385 feet under the surface, compared to the 20 to 150 feet most individual residential wells reached.
When residents sign up for the public water system, SARA creates a physical disconnect between current water systems and the public water system to avoid cross-contamination. Residents can still use individual well water for irrigation, but it will no longer be piped to the areas where the new water is received.
"This year, we finally hooked up our first 50 customers," Henning said. A total of 98 La Bahia residents signed up for the new water system.
Leftover funds from the USDA grant for the La Bahia water tower will be used to start a similar project in Weesatche.
"I don't live very close to my neighbors, but my water was still coming up with an odor, and we would have to run it for a while," said La Bahia resident William Zermeno. "For the first time in 362 years, La Bahia has clean, healthy water for its residents who have signed up for it."