Comprehensive Repairs Underway to City’s Water Towers and Underground Infrastructure
Marfa’s main water supply comes from two water towers – the silver cone-top tower, near the Courthouse, and the purple and white tower located at the north edge of town. The City has begun a comprehensive maintenance plan for both towers, work that has not been done before, due in large part to financial constraints. The work is part of a larger infrastructure planning effort by City administration to address Marfa’s aging infrastructure–street pavement, underground water pipes and valves, and gas lines.
The cone top tower is currently drained of water and is being cleaned inside and out. After it is thoroughly cleaned, large rust spots will be patched and the tower will be brought up to OSHA safety standards. With the silver tower offline for maintenance, the City is relying on the purple and white tower for its water supply. The City has contracted with Maguire Iron, a company that specializes in water tower maintenance, for the immediate repairs to both towers as well as entered into a long-term contract for regular maintenance and inspections.
On Monday evening, residents reported a large leak at a fire hydrant on Galveston Street, a leak that highlighted some of the large-scale problems with the City’s water system. Because the system lacks a sufficient number of valves, Marfa’s public works crew was unable to isolate the problem to that neighborhood, and instead had to shut off water to the entire City. Water was off city-wide from approximately 6 - 11:30 pm. Crews worked into the night with temperatures near freezing to return water service to Marfa residents.
For many years, Marfa was in financial hardship and there simply weren’t funds to keep up with maintenance. Repairs, by necessity, were done on a shoestring. City staff worked extremely hard and did the best they could, but years of shortage of funds and the resulting deferred maintenance built up.
Now, the City is in a much better place financially, and the administration is addressing the backlog of maintenance while planning for the future. City Manager Terry Brechtel said, “The City is taking a comprehensive approach to maintaining our water infrastructure by doing complete repairs to both the cone-top and purple and white water towers. We also have a new water well coming on line this spring. These improvements along with other needed repairs and upgrades to the water lines mean that residents will not have to go through a town water outage like we had on Monday night.”