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Are serious leaks In the CTWSC system jeopardizing our fire safety?

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In an interview with one of our members recently, Argyle Fire Chief Mac Hohenberger stated that the insurance rates in Bartonville will NOT go up a possible 35% this year as reported by CURE if he doesn’t get a one year’s extension on the ISO inspection.  Chief Hohenberger has already gotten the year’s extension and our insurance rates cannot be affected until May 2015.  Until then, many questions must be asked and answers substantiated so that qualified engineers can review and analyze the information given to resolve this issue.

Chief Hohenberger said, “I am not here to be on one side or the other. I do not care if the elevated tower gets built or not. I am concerned that the numbers Cross Timbers Water Supply gave me about dipping into the fire reserve get resolved. This is the first I have heard about any of this from Cross Timbers.”

These numbers came to Fire Chief Hohenberger in a letter from Cross Timbers Water Company that had NOT been signed by a licensed, registered engineer or a water specialist just before the Bartonville Town Council was scheduled to vote on the water tower/Town Ordinance issue.  As we understand it, CTWSC board members are not engineers or water specialists but simply volunteers for board positions. In their letter to the Chief they state, “We would appreciate your help in notifying the Town of Bartonville of this public safety issue. The addition of a second elevated water tank is needed to address this deficiency.”

Certainly these numbers are alarming but they were not alarming enough for Cross Timbers Water Supply to report them to the Fire Department at the time they occurred as is the practice of other water companies. According to the Chief, when other water companies in his jurisdiction have a problem with water for fire issues, they contact him immediately. Yet Cross Timbers Water Supply has never contacted him before about these water issues which supposedly date back to 2006. 

Trying to understand why this was supposed to have been happening since 2006, the Chief asked Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. what their system’s automatic “rate of recovery” is? In other words, how fast does fresh water automatically get pumped in as the existing water is used? All other water systems in his jurisdiction (Argyle and Lantana) can immediately answer that question. In fact, it is our understanding that Lantana’s water system which has ONE elevated tower has always had such an excellent rate of recovery that they have never had these occurences in their system. But Cross Timbers Water Supply did not know this basic and essential piece of information about their own water system when asked by the fire chief.

Chief Hohenberger asked the right questions. Cross Timbers Water Supply “rate of recovery” is critical to a well-operated system and was addressed in the letter by Kevin Glovier, PE, a licensed, registered engineer and project manager of The Wallace Group in Dallas which we attached to our last update. 

Mr. Glovier stated: Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. “could perhaps resolve this issue by changing operating procedures. It appears the automation should be reset….”

Furthermore, Fire Chief Hohenberger stated that Cross Timbers WSC had an excellent fire insurance rating in 2006. If the numbers in the water company’s recent letter to the fire chief are accurate, how could they have gotten an excellent insurance rating in 2006 when their letter stated that these problems began?  In addition, it is our understanding that there have been less than 200 connections added since then. How can a water company have an excellent rating with around 1,900 connections in 2006 and reduce their rating almost in half by adding less than 200 connections in eight years?  This is a mystery to us.  If these numbers can be substantiated as accurate, then the question becomes: What else besides “rate of recovery” could have effected their water levels so much? We are asking that question too.

Is it possible that lower water levels coincided with any of the recurring serious leaks they have in their system? …like the major leak in their main water line for TWO years during serious drought weather.  For at least two years, residents in Copper Canyon complained numerous times to the Bartonville Water Supply/Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. about a leak on Black Jack Lane that they needed to repair.  It created a small lake-like area that went unrepaired for two years until someone put it on YouTube which you can view in the link below.

Be sure to click on “Show More” to read the Oct. 4, 2011 posting entitled, “The Mystery is SOLVED.” If you cannot access all of the written postings describing this situation most often located just under the video on your computer screen, please let us know and we will scan a copy to send you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5uxedzMQgo

This is the water they were wasting while you were told you could not water your yard and now you’re told you can’t count on for fire protection.

Maybe these lower water levels also coincided with the times the water company sold water at a discount to gas companies for fracking, which according to Jim Leggieri, they did as a water conservation technique.

Mr. Glovier concluded in his engineering report on Cross Timbers Water Supply that “it appears all of the problems Cross Timbers WSC claims can only be addressed by an elevated storage tank can in fact be adequately and cost-effectively resolved with ground storage tanks, increased line sizes, and pressure pumps.”

Therefore, it seems like the bottom line is that if these supposed lower water levels are in fact occurring, then they shouldn’t be. Cross Timbers Water Supply has many pressure problems outside of ground vs. elevated storage which need to be analyzed and resolved.  Nothing about these deficiencies which would raise our insurance rates have ever been reported until exactly the weekend prior to the time the water company was trying to panic the Town Council or provide them a rationale for an irresponsible vote. What the letter to Fire Chief Hohenberger seems to really demonstrate is the possibility that the water company would jeopardize everyone’s insurance rates in their entire service area in order to have their way with the Town Council.

We’d also like to report on another citizen’s speech which was given at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. This citizen described his history with Cross Timbers Water Supply and how they were in negotiations
for a road easement through his property.  During these negotiations, the water company told him verbally and later in writing that they would build only ground storage tanks on that land, never an elevated tower.  Based on that commitment, he all but gave them a road easement through his property.

Later the water company came back and asked for an electrical easement through his property also. He wrote up a proposal to them but never heard back from them. He had to go out of town and when he returned, he realized that the water company had come on his land, dug the ditch, buried the electrical wire and took their easement, all without even talking with him.  In this case, the water company simply took what they wanted and has never spoken to the property owner since.

To summarize:

1.  A new engineering report proves that the water company has been misrepresenting their need for elevated storage for fire suppression.

2.  Recurring serious leaks in the water company’s system contribute to low water and pressure problems related to fire protection this system may have, like the leak in Cross Timbers main water line during drought season that went unrepaired for two years

3.  Cross Timbers Water Supply has a history of dealing with many citizens using deceptive business practices as evidenced by the latest account told at our last town meeting where they simply took an easement they wanted and haven’t spoken to the property owner since.

4.  A new engineering report proves that ground storage tanks at the Stargate site will solve the problems Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. claims they have as effectively as elevated storage. These tanks will not compromise our Town Ordinances.

Unfortunately, after having received most of this new information, the Town Council has scheduled a Special Town Council meeting Monday night, just one day before the Candidate Forum and right after one of the most important holiday weekends of the year.  Why push to get this vote done now?  We can understand how the water company might want them to vote now just before the elections.  But we don’t understand why the Council themselves need to do this immediately.  It is our hope that a vote as important as this one for every town in Texas is not going to be the victim of politics. 

It appears that they intend to vote to approve taking money from the water company rather than ending the lawsuit that the town already won. 

If they do this, it is a big deal.  The water company broke our laws.  They should be held accountable.  We now have an engineer’s report which proves that the water company has been lying to the town all along.  Ground storage was all they ever needed.  We have shown that they lose hundreds of thousands of gallons of water through incompetent operations.  We have shown that the water company deceives and manipulates those they deal with. 

What the water company has done is just plain wrong. That should matter to the people who swore to uphold our Town Ordinances.  That should matter to every citizen in our town.

Some of the Town Council Members have talked about stopping the spending on this lawsuit by ending it.  We couldn’t agree more, please do it.  But don’t end it by taking money from those who sued the town in exchange for giving them what they illegally took.  End it by exercising the right our town fought two long hard years of legal battles to preserve by holding those who sued us accountable for trespassing against our Town Ordinances.  The Court of Appeals has ruled that the water company’s tower is illegal and has commanded that it be dealt with.  We have proven that ground storage tanks will be as effective as the tower.  We have proven that the water company has misinformed the town about needing the tower for fire suppression.  In the face of such overwhelming evidence, we wonder how the Town Council could do anything other than demand that the elevated tower be replaced with ground storage tanks.

If the Town Council refuses to stand up to them now in spite of all the facts to the contrary, they will compromise our Town Ordinances and preempt any new Town Council from being able to effectively deal with them on the elevated tower issue in the future.  They will take money in exchange for throwing away two long, hard years of legal battles to preserve our town’s right to hold the water company accountable for breaking our laws.

It may be that the water company has talked them into taking their money contingent upon open public hearings. This looks good politically but these hearings would be little more than a formality along the lines of a jury who has already voted to hang a guy and then give him a trial.  In that instance they would have no real choice except to vote yes to compromising our Town Ordinances.  Having already given up their authority to require them to tear this illegally built tower down now, they may not be able to enforce it if they did refuse them a permit.  The town may have to begin a new lawsuit, suing the water company for what they have a right to do now but are getting ready to throw away. In doing this, this Town Council will also set a dangerous precedent for others to defy our Town Ordinances any time they don’t like the decisions future Town Councils make, not only in our town but in all the towns across Texas.  This Town Council is well aware of these issues as is the water company. 

The last agenda item for Monday night after the Council has already voted on the water tower/Town Ordinance issue is consideration of another water engineering study.  It seems like this Town Council might want to consider that the engineering research their own constituents brought them was reliable, professional, and worthy of review. We hope that they will study it.  However, if they are going to have another independent water study done, why bother with it if they aren’t going to have it completed before they vote?  How useful will new information be to them after they have made their decision and the damage to our town is already done?

Finally, there is an alternative to the elevated tower which the citizen’s new engineering study suggested: a large ground storage tank.  As you recall, the study stated that this would be a cost effective way to add to Cross Timbers Water Supply’s water storage.  Cross Timbers owns 4.75 acres on their Stargate site which would likely accommodate an enormous ground storage tank.  Southlake has a 5,000,000 gallon ground storage tank….yes, that is a five-million-gallon ground storage tank….in their town which is even painted in a decorative fashion.  Even if the ground storage tank at the Stargate site is not that large, there is a great deal of land for a large ground tank. Not only would the water system be improved in the areas related to storage but that kind of structure would not compromise our Town Ordinances because it would preserve the character and integrity of the surrounding neighborhoods which our Conditional Use Permit ordinance is so clear about.

What this water company has done is just plain wrong.  Please help us deal with them.  Even if you don’t live near the tower, those who do need you help.  While they will feel the immediate impact if the water company is allowed to finish their illegal tower, it may be your home and area of town next if they are allowed to compromise our Town Ordinances now.

It will just take a few minutes and it really matters to our Town Council if you write to the Town Council members now and let them know how you feel about this issue. It is especially important that you write emails before this Monday night, April 21st meeting because we will not be allowed to speak at that meeting and it appears that a decision on this is imminent.  Also, if you can attend, it is a critically important meeting and we hope you can be there.  The closed session begins at 7:00 p.m. with the open session t
o follow at an unknown time at Bartonville Town Hall. Their email addresses are as follows:

Place1@townofbartonville.com  Council Member Jeff Traylor
Place2@townofbartonville.com  Council Member Norma Harrington
Place3@townofbartonville.com  Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scherer
Place4@townofbartonville.com  Council Member Gary Marco
Place5@townofbartonville.com  Council Member Jim Langford

Jane Teel
Bartonville, TX

 

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