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Water Towers’ Rundown Conditions Raises Safety Concerns

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WESLACO - Weslaco officials are working to ensure the safety of its drinking water after receiving several notices of violation.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found the city non-compliant with two of its water towers since 2013. It said the city failed to ensure the good working condition and general appearance of its Kansas Weslaco Tower and Bridge Avenue Tower.

Resident Angela Aguirre said she’s constantly thinking about the safety of her two children.

“They’re my life. I always say it’s for the safeness of our children. That’s the main priority. I’m pretty sure a lot of people have families here,” she said.

Aguirre said she expects Weslaco to upgrade its older water towers. She fears the structures’ conditions could be a danger to their health.

Weslaco Water Waste Superintendent Marcelo Cosme said the city is not too worried about the old towers’ effect in spite of TCEQ’s concern.

“We have enough ground storage right now, we could actually do without this tower,” he said. “We have a new tower we built over at Harlem Park, and we just rehabilitated the one on Milanos.”

Cosme said they didn't follow through with the changes TCEQ requested. He said corrosion on the tower located at Bridge Avenue is being fixed. The agency also hired a contractor to fix a leak in the 76-year-old Kansas Weslaco Tower, and replace its rusted riser pipe with a new raw iron steel pipe.

“The report, as you know, we had the towers that hadn’t been worked on for a while. So, that was pretty much a small little effects we had on our inspections. But, as I mentioned, we’re getting them addressed this year,” he said.

The superintendent added it takes time to be in compliance with all TCEQ regulations. He said the Mississippi-based contractor, Diamond Enterprises, will start the project in about a week.

Cosme said he hopes the project will be finalized in a month.

The city of Weslaco was fined by the TCEQ in 2011. Prior to expanding its water treatment plant, the city was cited for failure to provide adequate storage, elevated water storage and water treatment plant capacities.

The TCEQ said it fined the city $1,111 in August of 2012. The city paid $889 of the fine, the “administrative penalty.” 

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