Old Water Tower in La Feria Raising Concerns for Residents

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LA FERIA – An old water tower in La Feria is being drained and people who live near it said the water trail it’s leaving behind is causing problems.

Residents said the renovations is leaving large puddles and attracting all sorts of wildlife and insects.

The more than half-million dollar water tower project is at a standstill. Contractors discovered the 40-year-old tower had more problems than they could see.

Valves inside the tank that shut the water on and off and direct it to the right pipes will need to be replaced.

“The only way the contractor can get in there and start working is if the tank is drained completely, “ La Feria City Manager Jaime Sandoval said.

He said crews dug out the makeshift channel to get the water from the tower to the drainage ditch.

Veronica Martinez-Brodel lives near where the water is being drained.

“There was a lot of ducks, birds, having fun in the water. So we noticed and thought, oh, there’s got to be a lot of water out there,” Martinez-Brodel said.

She said she doesn’t mind the birds; she is concerned about the slow-flowing water.

“We used to be able to sit outside in our little porch there and just enjoy the evenings, but you can’t because the mosquitoes are just all over us. And we’re afraid of the mosquitoes, especially because of this Zika virus thing that’s going on,” Martinez-Brodel said.

She said she isn’t happy with the city’s work. She said they could’ve chosen a more direct path to the ditch instead of draining the water behind her neighborhood.

“There’s a lot of elderly people that live in this park and that are sick. And we don’t want to get sick because of it,” she said.

Sandoval said since state funds are being used to renovate the water tower, fixing the valves that control water flow has to be approved by the state before the project moves forward.

“We’ve already submitted the paperwork. Hopefully the valve work will start within the next 30 to 45 days,” he said.

The time frame is simply too long for Martinez-Bordel. She said the heat is on and the mosquito issues are bound to get worse.

“No, they’ve got to do something before that. I would think the city would care more about the citizens of La Feria to do something better than this,” she said.

Sandoval said shutting off the water to eliminate the water flow is not an option because it would leave residents without water.

He added the city crews will be treating the water for mosquitoes possibly breeding in the water.

Sandoval said rehabilitating the water tower before wasn’t an option due to the small town’s budget.

In 2016, the Texas Department of Agriculture granted La Feria $240,000 for the renovations. The city matched the grant with $240,000 from the city’s budget.

Once completed, the water tower will be able to service residents for an additional 20 to 30 years. The project is expected to be completed by year’s end. 

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