Posted on January 27, 2022
Hopefully Fort Worth doesn’t see a repeat of the February 2021 winter storm. If it does, the water utility is better prepared to handle the high call volume.
The utility nearly tripled its call center incoming lines to 250 and expanded reporting options beyond just phone calls. Customers can now report major outages and water cuts faster via the MyFW app, which can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple Store.
Fort Worth is accelerating the replacement of the system’s 800 miles of cast iron water pipes. In 2021, the city approved construction contracts to replace approximately 12 miles of cast iron water pipes and issued engineering design contracts for an additional 32 miles of cast iron pipes. In the current year’s budget, the city council increased funding for water and wastewater rehabilitation projects by 17.79% to $77.6 million.
In addition, the water department has acquired propane heaters to thaw essential parts of outdoor equipment.
Additional measures in progress
Even before the storm was over, Fort Worth water utility leaders were discussing ways to improve the reliability of the water system, particularly with regards to power reliability improvements.
Having multiple water treatment plants with the ability to move water to any part of town is how Fort Worth has historically handled emergencies. Each water treatment plant is supplied with electricity from power distribution lines and backup generators are in place at several pump stations. Additionally, the utility has two large portable generators.
Resilience was insufficient last February when power outages affected three of the four drinking water plants in operation at the time. As a result, approximately 312,000 retail customers have been subject to boil water advisories, along with other communities that purchase water in Fort Worth.
Additional measures planned by Fort Worth include:
- Work with Oncor to transition electrical service at the Eagle Mountain Water Treatment Plant from distribution lines to high voltage lines. The Rolling Hills water treatment plant is already on power lines and was the only plant that did not lose power.
- Addition of stationary backup generators at five pump stations, as well as backup power generation at Westside, North Holly and South Holly water treatment plants. Tenders were recently opened for the Westside Water Treatment Plant project and are currently being evaluated.
- Surrounding the high-duty pump stations of the Eagle Mountain and Westside water treatment plants. The city is evaluating construction bids for these projects.
It will take two to three years for all the improvements to be operational. Supply chain issues can delay implementation schedules, and large diesel generators require air permits.
Get articles like this delivered to your inbox. Subscribe to municipal news.