Water tower brings clean water to La Bahia

Sept. 12, 2011 at 4:12 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 Earl Henning, San Antonio River Authority water specialist who services the water towers in La Bahia, Fannin and Berclair in rural Goliad County.

Residents are happy to have the water.

"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."

In 2002, former County Judge Harold Gleinser came across incomplete documentation to begin Goliad County Water Supply Corp. 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.

Before the new water systems, residents had individual water wells and septic systems on their property, which had a great potential for contamination because of seepage.

Residents will also experience increased water pressure under the new system - a plus.

The Goliad water supply corporation received state grants to build water towers in Berclair and Fannin, but La Bahia did not qualify for a state grant, Henning said.

In 2006, U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa aided the water supply corporation in procuring a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build a water tower in La Bahia.

The water supply corporation board hired the river authority to provide technical and financial assistance. Customers pay the water supply corporation directly, who in turn pay the river authority for operation and management of the water systems, Henning said.

While the USDA grant was approved in 2008, complications delayed construction until 2010.

Henning said when the well was completed, the river authority 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, the river authority 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.



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