Fighting Fluctuation

Aug. 8, 2018
Texas resort town installs flushing units to improve water quality in light of seasonal population shifts

The central Texas resort city of Horseshoe Bay includes a growing number of lakeside properties for vacations and weekend getaways. It borders the south shore of the 10-sq-mile Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, which is formed by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). The area features a highly developed, built-up shoreline, boathouses and properties with a seasonal population.

The Problem

The Horseshoe Bay Water Distribution System (HBWDS) water quality testing includes eight parameters, from temperature and pH to coliform bacteria. Testing, flushing and sampling ensure water quality and provide critical data to the LCRA.

The user population of the HBWDS does not reach its peak until summer, and the resultant levels of peak and low usage vary widely. This fluctuation impacts levels of disinfectant residual and, consequently, water quality—especially at the end of the line. Maintaining proper disinfectant residual is not traditionally problematic for closer lines of the system. Also, manual flushing of the utility’s hydrants to maintain water quality has resulted in the use of excessive time and labor, as workers must access the outlying areas.

The Solution

The City of Horseshoe Bay Utilities Department’s solution to the HBWDS’s challenges was a simple decision.

“We found that we had some water quality issues at the very end of our lines, and [we] wanted to make this automated flushing project part of a much more comprehensive program to maintain water quality in our system,” said Steve Hawley, plant operations supervisor.

The HBWDS subsequently installed:

The utility is already seeing substantial labor and time savings in the system. Each of the HG-1 automatic flushing units is metered: Readings are accurate, and water-age issues are now more manageable.

“We’ve freed up man-hours and seen improvement in trouble areas,” said Hawley. “In some areas, a single HG-1 is saving us four to five hours of labor every week.”

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Once it is known how much water must be flushed to maintain water quality levels, the utility can move to more frequent, lower-volume flushes, regardless of the water usage in the city. Data showing savings in time and water quantity will soon exist—it will aid in future expansion and updating of the system.

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