Fort Bend County, Fireworks, and Drought

28 12 2012

Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the Texas Forest Service has determined that drought conditions no longer exist in Fort Bend County.  The KBDI Index must be an average of 575 for drough conditions to exist within a TexasFireworks county for the purpose of restricting certain aerial fireworks.  Though the County’s index was nearing 500 just a few weeks ago, it is now at 419.  So aerial fireworks will now be allowed to be used in the unincorporated areas of the County on New Year’s Eve; but remember, most cities have bans on the use of fireworks.  Please check with your local jurisdiction to make sure what the regulations are for use of fireworks.

However, many places in Texas are still facing drought conditions.  Public water systems across the State, and in our area, are taking actions to conserve water usage.  There is a possibility that dry conditions may continue across the State for the next several months.  As a matter of fact, the Gulf Coast Water Authority is attempting to limit the use of water by ten percent.  The Gulf Coast Water Authority provides water to some areas in Fort Bend County.  For more information, the City of Missouri City has issued a Media News Release on the subject (published on December 28, 2012).  The content of the News Release is below:

Missouri City Drought Contingency Implementation

Texas is experiencing widespread drought conditions. Forecasts for early 2013 include below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has issued an Order requiring the implementation of certain water use restrictions, and, as a result, the Gulf Coast Water Authority has set a goal of 10 percent reduction in water use. As a result, effective December 28, 2012, the City of Missouri City has implemented the Stage 2 Response of its Drought Contingency Plan for its Surface Water Treatment Plant Utility Service Area.  This is the area served by Sienna Plantation Municipal Utility Districts. 

The current (time period) water supply reductions and corresponding demand restrictions are temporary in nature; however, the current end date is unknown. 

The City in conjunction with the Gulf Coast Water authority will be monitoring usage and sharing information, and the City will be supplying notice and reports relating to the drought contingency plan to local and state authorities.  

At this time, for residents of Sienna Plantation utility districts, please implement the water conservation measures specified by your utility provider.  Typical water use restrictions include limitations on outdoor watering and at home washing of vehicles.

For more information, please contact your utility provider at the number on your water bill or you may contact the City for additional information at 281-403-8500.

Local MUD operating companies maintain disaster preparedness certification with county

16 01 2012

Each year, Fort Bend County OEM works closely with local municipal utility districts to ensure that adequate preparations are taken to get ready for the hurricane season and also for other disasters that are not related to hurricanes.  Below, please see the text from a recent article published by the Fort Bend Star recognizing the efforts of local operating companies who have maintained their preparedness levels during 2011.  In fact, most of these entities have been part of the County’s MUD Readiness Program since its initiation in 2009.  The article was published on December 21, 2011.  And, believe it or not, in just a few short weeks, it will be time for the 2012 Program to kickoff!

County Judge Bob Hebert in conjunction with the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management would like to recognize Municipal District Services, Severn Trent, SouthWest Water Company, Environmental Development Partners and Fort Bend County Municipal Utility District No.25 for participating in a voluntary National Incident Management System (NIMS) Program that he initiated in 2009.  In 2011, each company completed the requirements of the program and are hereby recognized as “NIMS Competent First Responders.”

Those recognized have earned the distinction by taking actions to become an integral part of the County’s emergency management network. The program involves a series of actions to be taken to make these operating companies more prepared for Hurricane Season, improve communications with emergency management staff at the County level, and truly begin to make the County’s water districts responsible for emergency management activities. County Judge Bob Hebert stated, “The program is based on assuring that participating operating companies are fully informed on the workings of the National Incident Management System and the role of the county in supporting all first responders during a declared emergency. The idea is to ensure improved communications between emergency management personnel and utility operators and to include utility district representation in the County EOC in all future activities.”

The conditions of the program included having employees from each utility operating company complete four NIMS on-line training courses (100, 200, 700 and 800).  Additionally, multiple employees have attended training sessions at the Fort Bend County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). During these sessions, attendees learned key definitions, the difference between crisis management and consequence management, the emergency response realities for municipal utility districts, the purpose and objectives of the County EOC, and the framework for the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan.

Jeff Braun, the County’s Emergency Management Coordinator, notes that “OEM staff is committed to expanding the readiness program and he is hopeful that additional companies will take advantage of the training offered in the voluntary program.”  Overall, the program is intended to ensure a more coordinated and effective response to water emergencies that may occur in the future in Fort Bend County.

City of Houston issues mandatory water restrictions

19 08 2011

A couple of days ago, the City of  Houston implemented stricter water conservation measures.  And, yes, that affects citizens in Fort Bend County— about 38,000 individuals of the City of Houston live in Fort Bend County.  The City of Houston, along with First Colony MUD No. 9 are now at “Stage 2” of their drought plans.  More about the actions of the City of Houston can be found in the report from staff, published on August 16, 2011.  The article:

Mayor Annise Parker on Monday implemented the City of Houston’s “Stage Two” water conservation plan, making the previous voluntary water restrictions mandatory for all residents.

Under the Stage Two plan, Houston residents are required to repair all detectable leaks within 72 hours of discovery and limit outdoor watering to two days a week.

Residents at even-numbered street addresses can water their lawns on Sundays and Thursdays, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Residents with odd-numbered addresses can water on Saturdays and Wednesdays, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Failure to comply with the restrictions could result in hundreds of dollars in fines.

Parker said it wasn’t her intention to hand out a slew of violations, but residents are asked to take the restrictions seriously.

“While these restrictions are mandatory, we will begin with warnings and an informational campaign because the goal is voluntary compliance,” said Parker. “For those who insist on not being good neighbors, citations will follow.”

The City of Houston will also begin internal water-conservation measures, including the suspension of any scheduled window or power-washings, an audit of all irrigation systems for leaks, and the suspension of washing city vehicles or equipment except for health, safety or critical maintenance reasons.

The city has three main water reservoirs: Lake Livingston, Lake Houston and Lake Conroe.

Officials said because of the persistent drought conditions, they plan to start drawing water from Lake Conroe to stabilize the declining water level at Lake Houston.

It will be the first time the city has drawn water from Lake Conroe since 1988 — and only the third time in its history.

So far this summer, Lake Conroe has been losing about half a foot of water every month. Once the city starts drawing water, that will increase to more than a foot and a half a month.

In a news conference last week, Parker reminded concerned Lake Conroe property owners that the lake was built thanks to Houston taxpayers in the early 1960s.

“It is what it is,” Parker said. “There may be recreational impacts. We have to provide the necessary water to our population.”

After “Stage Two,” there are two, more serious levels of water rationing.

In the meantime, residents are also encouraged to take other water-conservation measures when possible, such as installing low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and toilets, refraining from washing cars or filling swimming pools, limiting showers to five minutes, washing only full loads of dishes or clothes and turning off the water while brushing their teeth.

First Colony MUD No. 9 Initiates Stage 2 Water Restrictions

17 08 2011

The other day I noted that Fort Bend County MUD 81 implemented Stage 1 water restrictions for its customers.  Yesterday, First Colony MUD No. 9 initiated Stage 2 of the District’s Drought Contingency Plan.  This was only done after the District had sent out voluntary water use notices in its water bills in May of this year, and again earlier this month.  As stated in the letter received by customers and residents of the District’s water system:

Water Use Restrictions for Demand Reduction.  Under threat of penalty for violation, the following water use restrictions shall apply to all persons:

  • Irrigation of landscape areas with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems shall be limited to Sundays and Thursdays for customers with a street address ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6 or 8), and Saturdays and Wednesdays for water customers with a street address ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9), and hose sprinkler/automatic irrigation of landscaped areas is further limited to the hours of 12:00 midnight until 10:00 a.m. and between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight on designated watering days.   However, irrigation of landscaped areas is permitted at any time if it is by means of a hand-held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five (5) gallons or less, or drip irrigation system.
  •  Use of water to wash any motor vehicle, motorbike, boat, trailer, airplane or other vehicle except on designated watering days between 12:00 midnight until 10:00 a.m. and between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight.  Such washing, when allowed, shall be done with a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff nozzle for quick rinses.  Vehicle washing may be done at any time on the immediate premises of a commercial car wash or commercial service station.  Further, such washing may be exempted from these regulations if the health, safety, and welfare of the public is contingent upon frequent vehicle cleansing, such as garbage trucks and vehicles used to transport food and perishables.
  • Use of water to fill, refill, or add to any indoor or outdoor swimming pools, wading pools, or Jacuzzi-type pools is prohibited except on designated watering days between the hours of 12:00 midnight until 10:00 a.m. and between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight.
  • Operation of any ornamental fountain or pond for aesthetic or scenic purposes is prohibited except where necessary to support aquatic life or where such fountains or ponds are equipped with a recirculation system.
  • Use of water from hydrants shall be limited to fire fighting, related activities, or other activities necessary to maintain public health, safety, and welfare, except that use of water from designated fire hydrants for construction purposes may be allowed under special permit from the District.
  • All restaurants are prohibited from serving water to patrons except upon request of the patron.

 The following uses of water are deemed as non-essential and are prohibited:

  1. Wash down of any sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced areas;
  2. Use of water to wash down buildings or structures for purposes other than immediate fire protection;
  3. Use of water for dust control;
  4. Flushing gutters or permitting water to run or accumulate is any gutter or street; and
  5. Failure to repair a controllable leak(s) within a reasonable period after having been given notice directing the repair of such leak(s).

Fort Bend County MUD 81: Mild Drought Conditions in Effect; drought response measures being implemented

11 08 2011

As the drought across the State of Texas continues, there is a growing necessity to conserve water.  Fort Bend County MUD 81 (City of Weston Lakes) has announced today that they are implementing the first stage of its drought contingency plan.  At this point, customers in the municipal utility district boundaries are asked to voluntarily reduct water use, except the following activities shall be mandatory and not voluntary:

  • All outdoor water usage, including, but not limited to, lawn and garden watering, car washing, and window washing, shall be limited as follows:  1)  Only users with even-numbered addresses may use water outdoors on even-numbered days and only users with odd numbered addresses may use water outdoors on odd-numbered days.  In the event no street address exists, only users living on the north and west side of a street may use water outdoors on even-numbered days, and only users on the and east side of a street may use water outdoors on odd-numbered days, and 2) Outdoor water use shall be prohibited between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., and between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. (midnight).

City of Katy Asks Residents to Cut Water Use

8 06 2011

Severe drought conditions are affecting Fort Bend County communities.  Recently the City of Pearland, a portion of which is located in Fort Bend County, announced voluntary measures to reduce water usage.  The City of Katy is now forced to do the same thing.  As reported by Karen Hastings, Houston Chronicle, on June 7, 2011:

Katy city officials have announced voluntary restrictions to counter a spike in drought-fueled water consumption.

As residents attempt to resuscitate parched lawns, city wells have been pumping an average of 4.5 million gallons per day – a 50 percent increase over normal May pumpage rates, Public Works Director Elaine Lutringer said.

While that rate is enough to trigger formal Stage Two mandatory restrictions under the city’s 2002 Drought Contingency Plan, Katy officials believe those triggers are outdated, given the city’s recent population increase and the capacity of the water system.

“Our citizens and businesses are so good at working with the city that we want to ask for voluntary restrictions first,” Lutringer said. “As we assess daily, that could change.”

The voluntary restrictions remained in effect June 7.

As described on the city’s website, informal voluntary restrictions ask that residents use minimal water and irrigate their yards before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m.

A voluntary move to irrigate only in early morning and evening hours can have a significant effect on daily usage, Assistant City Administrator Bill Drohan said. It evens out the system load and means less stress on water pumps, he said.

“Normally during the night, your wells usually rest. We would rather that they run a little bit at night than running so hard during the day,” Drohan said.

Watering during cooler hours also cuts down on evaporation and is actually more effective, he added. “It’s actually a better use of the water.”

The city also urged residents to check for water leaks around their residence or business.

A notice on the city website mentions extremely dry weather and hot temperatures. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, this area is experiencing the highest-level “exceptional drought” conditions, along with more than half of the rest of the state.

“Whenever you see a significant increase (in water use), it’s usually in the heat, and for the most part it’s from watering yards and trying to keep lawns alive,” Drohan said. “Our normal human consumption usually stays the same year-round.”

Drohan and Lutringer said the city is in no danger of running out of water and that voluntary efforts could prevent the need for mandatory restriction.

“As far as our water pumpage and water aquifer levels, we are fine at this point,” Lutringer said. “We have the storage capacity; so we’re not running into problems with our capacity.”

“This is more just waking people up, telling them to think about conservation,” Drohan added. “These are precautions you take when you see certain patterns start. You’re still able to water your yard; we’re just asking you to do it during times of low consumption. Water is precious, and during a drought it’s even more precious.”

The city operates a total of six water-well plants in Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties. Each plant includes ground and elevated storage tanks. The city has roughly 5.6 million gallons of storage in its ground tanks, and 2.4 million in its elevated tanks.

Water levels in the corresponding aquifers are a deciding factor in how much the city can pump each day, Lutringer said.

“Our water levels are fine right now,” she stressed.


2011 Texas Legislative Session – March 13th

13 03 2011

Below you will find a listing of  Emergency Management related bills as of March 13, 2011.    Information about 53  bills is noted below.

The 82nd Texas Legislature will be in session 140 days.  The first day of the session was Tuesday, January 11, 2011 and the last day of the session is Monday, May 30, 2011.  The last day to file regular bills was Friday, March 11, 2011.  Governor Perry has until June 19th to review bills passed by the State Legislature.  He can sign a bill to authorize new law, or he can let a bill become law without signing, or he can veto a bill.

HB 1  – (Pitts) Relating to General Appropriations.  Among other things, this bill would reduce expenditures for 9-1-1 Network by 27%; reduce by 48% disaster funding to state and local agencies when the Governor finds the demands on funds regularly appropriated are insufficient to respond to a particular disaster; reduce by Criminal Justice grants by 55%, impacting the number of grants awarded from an estimated 900 in FY 2011 to approximately 520 each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium; and eliminate funding for the Flood Control Dam Grant Program which provides operations and maintenance, structural repair, and rehabilitation needs to flood control dams across the State.

HB 614   –  (Hopson)  Relating to allowing health care providers to provide services across state lines in catastrophic circumstances.

HB 803 – (Bonnen) Relating to the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area.  SB 432 is identical.

HB 805 – (Callegari) Relating the requirement that certain water service providers ensure emergency operations during an extended power outage.

HB 837 – (Taylor, Van) Relating to the authority of peace officers to request thumbprints during motor vehicle stops.

HB 993 – (Rodriguez, E.)  Relating to the closure of a road or highway by certain firefighters.

HB 1030 – (Miller) Relating to the powers and duties of certain emergency services districts.

HB 1075 – (Anderson) Relating to the consolidation of certain alert system into a single statewide alert system and to the addition of other factors that will prompt an alert under the consolidated system.

HB 1092 – (Christian)  Relating to the exemption from certain construction requirements for volunteer fire departments in certain counties.

HB 1125 – (Burnam)  Relating to a study regarding the odorization of natural gas transported in gathering and transmission lines located in populated areas.

HB 1147 – (Smith) Relating to notice by a governmental entity regarding certain geospatial data products.  SB 442 is identical.

HB 1174 – (Workman) Relating to the expiration of a county burn ban.

HB 1217 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty.

HB 1319 – (Laubenberg) Relating to the calculation and reporting of water usage and conservation by municipalities and water utilities.

HB 1354 – (Davis, S.)  Relating to liability of certain certified municipal inspector for services rendered during an emergency or disaster.

HB 1379 – (Anchia)  Relating to the purchasing of a firearm from the county by an honorably retired law enforcement officer.

HB 1476  –  (Riddle)  Relating to the grounds for revocation of an emergency medical services personnel certification.

HB 1561  –  (Orr)  Relating to the authority of a municipality to implement a photographic traffic signal enforcement system and impose civil penalties.

HB 1619 – (Orr)  Relating to emergency services districts.

HB 1711 – (Davis, John)  Relating to disaster remediation contracts; providing penalties.

HB 1750 – (Darby)  Relating to the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to lease and contract for the operation of rolling stock during certain emergencies.

HB 1765 – (Miller, Sid)  Relating to an emergency public service messaging network.  Identical to SB 971

HB 1791 – (Kleinschmidt)  Relating to emergency services districts.

HB 1861 – (Anchia)  Relating to the continuation and functions of the Commission on State Emergency Communications.  Identical to SB 648.

HB 1878 – (Miller, Doug)  Relating to emergency service districts.  Identical to SB 917.

HB 1911 – (Bonnen)  Relating to the liability of certain persons for damages arising from training exercises to prepare the persons to respond to certain emergencies.  Brazoria County emergency management officials worked to get this legislation proposed for consideration.

HB 1917 – (Schwertner)  Relating to the removal of appointed emergency services commissioners by a commissioners court.

HB 1986 – (Turner)  Relating to the authority of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to ensure the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has adequate reserve power to prevent blackout conditions.

HB 2035 – (Hamilton)  Relating to the temporary relocation of alcoholic beverage distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises during a period of emergency and delivery of alcoholic beverages to a distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises.

HB 2040 – (Hamilton)  Relating to critical incident stress management and crisis response services.

HB 2075 – (Martinez, Mando)  Relating to certain diseases or illnesses suffered by firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

HB 2099 – (Truitt)  Relating to an alert for a missing person with an intellectual disability.

HB 2158 – (Coleman)  Relating to a prohibition against the use of a stun gun or taser by school district peace officers, security personnel, and other employees against certain public school students.  Identical to SB 1239.

HB 2239 – (Coleman)  Relating to the minimum number of county jailers necessary to staff a county jail.

HB 2257 – (Phillips)  Relating to communications during a disaster or an emergency by public service providers.  Identical to SB 1238.

HB 2369 – (Quintanilla et al)  Relating to the accreditation of training programs and examinations for certain emergency medical services personnel.

HB 2390 – (Davis, Sarah)  Relating to the types of information relating to emergency responses that are confidential.

HB 2411 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent under certain circumstances following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty.

HB 2462 – (Bonnen)  Relating to motor vehicles used for fire, emergency or disaster response purposes.

HB 2858 – (Gallego)  Relating to the definition of emergency services personnel for purposes of the enhanced penalty prescribed for an assault committed against a person providing services in that capacity.

HB 2979 – (Hunter)  Relating to county authority to provide certain exemptions to restrictions on outdoor burning.

HB 3060 – (Smithee)  Relating to arbitration of certain claims under residential property insurance policies.

HB 3219 – (Thompson)  Relating to intelligence data standards and protected personal information.

SB 9 – Relating to Homeland Security.  The content of this proposed legislation relates to verification of immigration status of person charged with committing offense.

SB 106 – (Davis, Wendy)  Relating to condemnation of municipal property for, and municipal regulation of, pipeline operations.

SB 319 – (Carona)  Relating to financing programs for low-income electric customers and certain other electric customers.

SB 389 – (Williams)  Relating to emergency preparedness during an extended power outage of a water service provider with at lease 250 connections.

SB 418   –   (Williams)  Relating to the carrying of concealed handguns by certain persons attending a school board meeting.

SB 617  –  (Rodriguez)  Relating a manifest system to record the transportation of certain liquid wastes.

SB 917 – (Wentworth)  Relating to emergency service districts.

SB 969 – (Nelson)  Relating to the establishment of the Public Health Funding and Policy Advisory Committee with the Department of State Health Services.

SB 1205 – (Jackson)  Relating to the application of the limit on appraised value of a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes to an improvement that is a replacement structure for a structure that was rendered uninhabitable or unusable by a casualty or by wind or water damage.

SB 1206 – (Deuell)  Relating to medical care and health care services provided by a health care professional in a licensed freestanding emergency medical care facility.

SB 1461 – (Lucio)  Relating to the creation of the disaster reconstruction coordination office withing the governor’s office; creating the disaster contingency account.

For a PDF listing:  billreport 3-13-11

The PDF lists the bills, and includes information on the status of each bill.  At this point, many of the bills have been assigned to committees for review.  Public hearings have been called to hear testimony on some bills.

If you know of other bills that I may have missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!  Thanks to those of you who have contacted me and made suggestions.

Also, please consider subscribing to this blog to receive the legislative information directly.