Port Arthur infrastructure costs continue to climb

Published 12:13 pm Sunday, June 23, 2024

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The City of Port Arthur’s infrastructure needs are proving to be quite costly but if unmet, the needs could seriously affect the city’s water and sanitation systems.

Just less than a year ago, Dr. Hani Tohme, consultant to the city manager spoke of the city’s need for a rate increase to fund infrastructure rehabilitation and repair.

In August he proposed a 7 percent increase in water and sewer rates to generate the money needed to get back on track, saying the infrastructure needs had been neglected for 20 or so years. The option was not adopted.

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On Tuesday, Tohme along with the city’s water utilities director Calvin Matthews brought detailed information on needs that have been neglected for decades.

The proposal was broken down by priorities, with one being the highest priority and two not as urgent but still necessary. There are issues with sanitary lift stations, sewer pipe replacement, the water purification plan for the Gulf Pump Station project, wastewater treatment plant projects; and the list goes on.

Sanitary sewer lift stations priority 1 comes in with a projected budget of $18.9 million. The second set of sanitary sewer lift stations, priority two, includes 37 lift stations at $57.3 million.

Sanitary sewer pipe replacement is a priority one, Tohme said. Some of the projects are ready to go to construction and some are in the design phase.

But there are about 220 miles of clay pipe and reinforced concrete pipe that needs to be replaced, he said. Overall there is about $265 million worth of sanitary sewer pipe replacement needed, he said.

Water lines are a priority one as well and of the 57 noted, one — the Atlanta water line — was approved by council two months ago and is under construction.

The other 56 lines are ready for construction and designed.

“We have applied for Texas Water Development Board funding for these water lines and we are waiting on the results,” he said. “The total cost of these 56 water lines is $27.3 million.”

Priority two water line replacements encompasses 400 miles of cast iron and pipe. This comes in at $470 million.

The total cost of the needed projects comes in at $1.17 billion.

Mayor Thurman Bartie suggested a workshop with city leaders and council to go through the projects and prioritize them.

Councilman Harold Doucet suggested the priority items should be the ones citizens are the most concerned about.

“The citizens’ number one concern is sanitary sewer and we have $40 million worth of grants applied for — $20 million for sewer lift stations and $20 million for sewer pipe.”

The report on the water and waste water infrastructure priorities was not an action item for council. No date was set for a workshop as of Tuesday.