Thursday, June 24, 2021

Public Works is the Building Block of Southlake

When it comes to providing a multitude of services from one central department, Public Works comes to mind.

The department plays a vital role in distributing services that contribute to the quality of life for our residents, businesses and visitors from quality infrastructure to water quality and mobility.

They also provide safety and security by taking protective measures to reduce infrastructure risk within the City of Southlake.

“Our professionals take great pride in serving the citizens of Southlake,” Director of Public Works Rob Cohen said. “We implement the Southlake standard when it comes to taking care of City’s infrastructure needs, maintaining mobility and providing our customers with safe drinking water. Our team is well-versed and trained; it is a true honor and privilege serving alongside our public works professionals.”

There are several divisions of Public Works that contribute to the health and safety our community: Environmental Services, Streets and Drainage, Wastewater, Water, Mobility, Facilities, Engineering and Administration.

All divisions are staffed with knowledgeable professionals who are dedicated to providing the Southlake community with world-class service by protecting the public’s interest and improving quality infrastructure.

The Environmental Services Division promotes environmental wellness through public awareness, resource conversation and programs. Their ultimate goal is to protect public health by utilizing regulatory programs in addition to public education to teach others how to utilize the environment’s natural resources through storm water management, as well as Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) and water conservation programs.

The Streets and Drainage Division maintains the City’s infrastructure including roadways, stormwater infrastructure, and sidewalks. They oversee 209 miles of streets and 36 miles of drainage ditches, gutters, street curbs and medians. This division is often the first division called to assist first responders with blocked roadways from flooding, downed trees, debris or other disaster relief.

The Wastewater Division manages the daily operations of Southlake’s sewer system. They repair and perform preventative maintenance on over 200 miles of wastewater pipeline in addition to 13 lift stations. Staff also inspects and maintains over 3,000 manholes. Their tasks are required to be in compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) and most staff members are licensed in TCEQ Wastewater Collections.

The Water Division serves as the infrastructure side of Southlake Water Utilities. This team covers more than 11,314 water accounts, three major pump stations capable of processing more than 26 million gallons of water daily, storage tanks with a capacity of 21 million gallons of water per day, 302 miles of distribution pipe, 2,838 fire hydrants and 7,764 water valves. If customers have an interest in conserving water, the City offers programs and services that allow customers to conserve water and detect leaks in their water systems.

The Mobility Division is centered around mobility project management. The Traffic Team is responsible for roadway safety that includes signal operation, school zones and crosswalks. The division also works with regional partners in an effort to improve mobility.

The Facilities Division is responsible for all preventative maintenance on City buildings and structures. The team oversees almost 1 million gross square feet of infrastructure such as buildings and parking garages. They also coordinate project management for capital renovations and assist in planning future buildings.

The Administrative and Engineering Division oversees the planning, design and construction of the Capital Improvement Program, as well as identifies, manages and oversees infrastructure projects in Southlake.

Visit our website for more information about the Public Works Department.

Water Flow Back to Southlake System

In the early hours this morning, water started flowing back into the Southlake water system. This is great news but we want to remind everyone that a boil water notice remains in effect. It could be up to a week before the boil notice can be rescinded because the City will need to take the necessary steps to ensure water quality. This will involve performing tasks such as water sampling, flushing, etc. to meet regulatory requirements. We are hoping to quickly complete these processes, but we must follow these procedures for public safety.

We have prepared information that can be found on the city website to include what to expect as water service is returned, how to deal with a water leak or broken pipe, and even information about how to select a contractor/plumber should you need it.

If you do not yet have water service, please note that it may take time to make its way through the water system. Unless we experience a problem, water is on its way.

There is more information to come as we work to get back to normal. If you are able, please visit ProtectSouthlake.com for more information. We will continue to update you as we go through the day. The weather and power outages may pose some challenges, but it’s a step in the right direction. Thanks for your patience.

Public Works Teams Up Through Hardship to Provide Essential Services

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs classifies the basic human requirements as physiological such as food, water and shelter. When we dive down to determine essentials to keep our life going; water, plumbing and pathways to get to food and shelter are likely to make the list along with being with our loved ones.

March 2020 became a reminder of some of the essential services we often take for granted like turning on the faucet to drink a glass of water, flushing the toilet, driving down a roadway to the grocery store or even taking a stroll down the neighborhood sidewalk for a breath of fresh air.

Access to these necessities couldn’t cease.

“The COVID-19 environment forced us to develop a new service delivery model – one that would protect our workforce and customers as we continued to deliver our core services,” Public Works Director Rob Cohen said. “Our team overcame a tremendous number of setbacks and obstacles, yet their resilience continues to help us persevere through these uncharted times. I’m very proud of our team. They came together in a way that exemplified their ‘can do’ mantra while adhering to our exceptionally high standards and values.”

Public Works Operations’ primary duties involve tools in their hands and mud on their boots. When the call came to work from home, Public Works Operations Manager Jack Thompson was tasked with coordinating logistics and creating a sense of team among workers who weren’t used to collaborating digitally, all while he was required to work from home.

“Rob’s support and confidence in our team helped us to do what we needed to do in order to continue providing our services,” Thompson said. “We had the trust to make good decisions and the ability to make changes on the fly to make sure we were providing high-quality services to our residents and performing those duties in a safe manner.”

Operations Crew Leader Tim Hackrott came up with the idea to station teams at the water towers. Thompson stationed one person from the water, wastewater and streets teams at the water towers so that teams were socially distanced while the Public Works Operations facility was shut down. Most requests were handled via phone call to lessen the amount of exposure to the public and emergencies were responded to as needed.

Despite all the changes, production never fell off. Public Works Operations completed 234 water quality samples and continued 24/7 monitoring of water levels and pumping operations.

When workers weren’t in the field, they were updating standard operating procedures and obtaining FEMA and emergency management certifications.

“We were here every day. There was always something to take care of and processes to document and improve on,” Thompson said.

When Public Works Operations lost their teammate Darlene Rubio to COVID-19, they continued to press on. Public Works Administration Secretary Lydia Ruiz picked up the baton, not only managing work from administration, but handling all of Rubio’s assignments.

“I think losing Darlene really hit home. COVID-19 wasn’t just in the news, it was real for all of us,” Ruiz said.

In addition to her regular duties, she has worked to support telecommuting staff in new ways, managing finance and administration tasks, information packets for the City Council, as well as assisting in the development of the department budget.

She said the team has experienced a lot of change in the past several months, but she tries to make herself available as an assistant, especially to the remote workers who feel disconnected from their coworkers.

“We’re a close-knit group in Public Works. The City has done an excellent job of hiring the right people who make a great team,” Ruiz said. “Everyone is willing to lend a hand.”

Through our Southlake Values of Integrity, Innovation, Accountability, Excellence and Teamwork, our Public Works team has stepped up to the task to rethink the new world of working with social distancing, do the right thing and take personal responsibility for the work, all while working together to set a higher standard for services in Southlake.

Learn more about the essential services Southlake Public Works provides here.

Opening Your Business Back Up Soon? Check Out These Tips for Flushing Water from Your Plumbing.

The City of Southlake, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, wants to make sure you know how to properly flush out old water that has been sitting in the plumbing of your business for the last few weeks. 

While businesses and other buildings have been closed, water that existed in those private plumbing systems may have deteriorated in quality. Typically, buildings can prevent stagnant water through regular, consistent water use, so this is not a concern most of the time. However, there are easy fixes that business owners can undertake to ensure clean, fresh water is flowing through those faucets. 

  1. Remove faucet aerators if possible, and replace them after flushing is completed. 
  2. Consider opening only one fixture (sink, shower head, hose bib) at a time. The more fixtures that are open, the slower water will flow into the building, which will result in some pressure loss. 
  3. Start at the lowest floor of your building and work your way towards the top. 
  4. Alternate turning on hot water and cold water. If there is a water heater onsite, this will ensure the water heater is flushed as well. You will need to flush cold water longer than hot water. 
  5. Connect a water hose to an outdoor hose bib, or spigot. Flush this water for at least one hour. This will rid your plumbing of the stagnant water that has been buried underground in plumbing first. 
  6. Flush all toilets in each restroom. 
  7. For restroom sinks, you can turn on the faucet and flush for at least 2 minutes. 
  8. For kitchen sinks, you should flush cold water for at least 8-10 minutes, and hot water for at least one minute. 
  9. For water fountains, you should flush at least 1 minute. 
  10. For more guidance on water systems in buildings and additional steps you may want to take, you can visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html . 

Southlake Water Utilities maintains a year-round fire hydrant flushing program and monitors water quality in our water system daily. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us at 817-748-8082. 

Automatic Water Payments Available March 16

You asked! We delivered!

Beginning March 16, you will be able to add a credit card to automatically pay your water bill each month. No worries. No hassle. Just add your credit card to your account and your water bill is automatically paid until you change the settings.

Previously registered customers can login using their current account login. Go to www.southlakewaterutilities.com, select “Pay My Bill.” Select “Log In” in the upper right corner. Enter your username and password that you have previously created, and continue as you normally would to pay your water bill and enroll in the recurring credit card payment option.

Don’t have an account?  Go to www.southlakewaterutilities.com, select “Pay My Bill.” Enter your account number and customer number which is located on your most recent water bill. Continue through the prompts to make a payment and enroll in the recurring credit card payment option. You can check the box “Remember These Values” to save your information for future use.

By using the new auto payment service, the credit card on file with be automatically charged each month on the payment due date for the water bill amount. You will have to make one payment with this credit card and then it will give you the option to enroll in the recurring credit option.

With this addition, you will still be able to make a one-time payment through the self-service portal using your Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover Card, mail a check or money order to our office, drop off your payment at the drop box located in the breezeway the north side of Town Hall in between Origins and Talbots or stop by our office between the hours of 8 a.m. -5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

The City of Southlake is happy to add the recurring payment option and continue to deliver world-class services to our citizens.

Call Southlake Water Utilities Customer Service at 817-748-8051 or email swucustomerservice@ci.southlake.tx.us with any questions.

City Looks to Invest in New Water Infrastructure

You turn on the sink to wash dishes or shower for the day, but probably don’t think about the process of getting water to your house. But there’s a lot of work behind the scenes before the water ever comes into your home.

The Southlake City Council approved an engineering services agreement with Freese and Nichols, Inc. during the February 4 session. Under the agreement, FNI will provide engineering design services not to exceed $318,171 for residual control systems located at the Pearson and T.W. King Pump Stations.

“The completed project will provide our water system operators with the capability to control chlorine residual levels within the water system per federal regulations,” Public Works Director Rob Cohen said. “Creating and eventually purchasing the systems is one way we’re investing in quality infrastructure for the community.” 

Once the design is complete, the City can plan to purchase and install the systems in the next several years.

The hypochlorite generation systems helps to keep the water disinfected and assists in emergency preparedness. The new systems are part of the City’s goals to continue to provide safe, compliant drinking water, optimize technology, as well as build and maintain our high quality infrastructure.

Funding for the design of the systems will be provided from the Utility Fund.

Sewer Averages Calculated Now – What to Expect on Your Bill

Through the winter months of November, December and January, customers typically use less water.  During this time of year, people are not using water sprinklers, refilling their pools or washing the car as often.

This is why the residential sewer rate average is based upon the water consumption in the months of November, December and January. Water usage for those months will affect the amount that is billed in sewer charges for the remaining nine months out of the year.

For instance, if November’s water consumption is 4000 gallons, December’s water consumption is 3500 gallons and January’s water consumption is 4500 gallons, this gives an average water consumption of 4000 gallons which is what the sewer charges will be calculated at for the remaining 9 months in 2020, which fall between March – October.

Southlake Water Utilities wants to remind citizens that these next two months of water usage will indeed affect sewer averages.

To review more information about Water and Sewer rates, please visit us online.

Council Approves Contract for Repairs at T.W. King Booster Station

The City continues aiming to achieve the highest standards of safety and security by investing in and maintaining quality public assets. City Council authorized expenditures at the November 19 council meeting to replace the existing 20 year old pump control valves, which will ensure critical operation of the T. W. Booster Station that is located at 3655 T.W. King Road.

This Booster Station is vital to the welfare of Southlake residents because it is utilized to deliver potable drinking water and also provides fire protection in case of an emergency.

Booster Stations increase low water pressure by pumping the water purchased from our Wholesale Provider to the water towers, then ultimately into a home or commercial facility.

The T.W. King Booster Station is one of Southlakes’ two points of entry from Fort Worth with the capacity to distribute approximately 17 million gallons of water per day.

The funds were set aside in the FY2020 Utility Fund and Water Operating budget to replace two 12-inch booster pump control valves along with providing additional repair services if needed. These replacements are necessary to provide adequate protection to the low-pressure plane to meet demand and supply of this area.

Services will be provided by Axis Construction, LP who is also required to provide emergency replacement of a broken beyond repair 16-inch surge anticipating valve with a standard Cla-Val brand valve. This valve helps alleviate any pressure surge the system may encounter due to a power failure.

The City always seeks a proactive solution to our infrastructure; by investing in our public assets strategically, the City can continue to provide the highest quality of life for our residents.

City to Take Part in Water Assessment Program

City Council renewed an agreement to participate with Wachs Water Services, A Division of Pure Technologies U.S. for the annual Water Valve Assessment Program and leak detection services on Tuesday at the November 19 City Council meeting.

This is the fourth year the City has participated with this program which assesses the condition of the water valves to ensure proper functionality in the event of a possible crisis by providing asset management, leak detection services and water quality improvement.

The program also confirms valve and hydrant location as compared to the City’s GIS database, operability and leak assessment.

This year, Wachs will assess approximately 665 small diameter water valves by locating and collecting GPS coordinates of these water valves, test the operation of these valves, and identify which valve requires repairs and/or improvements.

Funding for this service is provided by the FY 2020 Utility Fund and Water Operating Budget.