A new pump station and pipeline in southeastern Texas could help improve the area's ability to provide water to residents in an emergency after flaws in the system were found during Hurricane Harvey.
Consulting firm Freese and Nichols has suggested that Beaumont review its water system and consider five new projects to improve the system, The Beaumont Enterprise reported.
Beaumont's lone pump station that pulls water from the Neches River was swamped by Harvey's floodwaters in 2017, which left residents without water service for more than a week. Tiger Industrial Rentals provided three pumps, which allowed residents to use toilets and bathe until the regular station was operational again.
"At the end of the day, Harvey opened our eyes to the vulnerabilities of the existing system," said Richard Weatherly of Freese and Nichols, which has worked with the city on water distribution for the past 50 years.
The three smaller project proposals include building a wall around a surface water treatment plant's electrical building, expanding the plant's chemical storage capacity and replacing chemical equipment to improve reliability. Officials said construction could begin by August 2019.
The larger projects seek to construct a new pump station and pipeline, and construction likely won't begin until mid-2020.
"The greatest risk the city has is there's one pipeline and one pump station going to the treatment plant," Weatherly said. "When that system right there is compromised, then the city's surface water supply is compromised."
Beaumont City Council recently instructed staff to research funding options for the projects, which could cost nearly $29 million. The council still needs to consider the proposed projects in a formal vote.