By Gloria Roemer
Trinity Bay Conservation District Board of Directors will hold its first regular meeting of 2022 on Wednesday, January 12th at 9am in the District offices in Stowell.
So, what is new with TBCD? At the end of 2021, the Board of Directors voted 3(for – Kahla, Mitchell, Hankamer), 0(against), and 1(abstain-Jenkins) to not renew the contract of then General Manager James Gibson. Director Greg Turner was absent. TBCD is conducting a job search for a new general manager but if you read the job requirements for the position, the requirements almost match the “resume” of a former general manager. Applications for general manager are accepted until January 31, 2022. To date, only one application has been received. The application received is in a sealed envelope and no one seems to know who applied for the position. When District Attorney Cheryl Lieck convened a grand jury to investigate alleged misdeeds of a former TBCD general manager, she said, “I cannot speak to the discussions of the grand jury, but I can tell you that TBCD is the most mismanaged, inefficiently run entity I have ever seen. I can also tell you that there were numerous prosecutorial misdemeanors, but the statute of limitations had run out on these misdemeanors.” Our community hopes that the Board of Directors hire an individual that can make the changes necessary to move the District forward without the mismanagement and controversy of former failed general managers.
There is good news for the new Hankamer Wastewater Treatment Plant. As has been reported, the bids LJA Engineering solicited for the project have all been way over budget. Since TBCD is fundamentally broke, Chambers County Commissioners Court approved at their last meeting in 2021, to use $644,000 of the over $8 million the County will be receiving in grant funding to cover the $644,000 in additional costs of the project. The developer of the housing project which will benefit from the new plant has already pledged $362,000 to TBCD to cover costs. According to the County, the Hankamer Wastewater Treatment Plant should be operational by November 2022.
At the December 15, 2021 meeting, “how a water meter works” was presented by Shellie Rabroker with Core and Main who supply a large majority of the water meters for TBCD. In essence, Rabroker said that the meters used by TBCD could not be wrong. If the meter is monitoring water usage, the water is being used somewhere. Just because a customer cannot “see” or determine how the water is being used, it is being used. It is either going into the ground or into the sewer system. Things to look for if you feel you are “using” an unusual amount of water are (1) the guts of your toilet. Rabroker stated that today’s toilets do not last very long and its parts are not as longstanding as in the past. “Honestly, toilets today do not last as long as they used to,” she said. “You should probably change out the toilet every 10 years or so. When the parts are not working efficiently, you can use a lot more water than you have before.” (2) Check your ice machines. Ice machines may leak and drip and you may not be aware of it. These leaks cause extra water usage and in time, may increase your bill. (3) Check drips in all your sinks and faucets. If you do not turn off a faucet tightly, water can drip all day and night that can cause a high water bill.
TBCD water/sewer staff also explained that many consumers do not read their bill correctly. “If you receive an unusually low bill one month, and then an usually high bill the next month, it is often due to the low month being an “average” due to the meter not being read that month,” said Mike Will, water/sewer department head. “After we explain to the consumer that the higher bill is a calculation of the real water usage, the consumer understands.” Will also emphasized that many consumers are paying lower amounts because their water meter is old and is not representing accurate water consumption. He also noted that if TBCD purchases new more efficient water meters, many water bills will increase due to a more accurate water consumption reading.