Lake Houston Project | Source Water Protection | The Water Works Museum and Education Center | Annual Water Festival | Corral the Grease
Lake Houston Project - City water quality experts studied Houston's water quality problem - taste and odor - and found a low-cost, effective solution for preventing algal blooms - the root cause of the problem - that did not involve the use of additional chemicals.
The solution, called "hypolimnetic aeration", involves using a slow mixing technique to keep lower waters oxygenated all year long, promoting the health of the natural ecosystem. Algal blooms only occur when the natural biosystem is altered in a way that favors the propagation of unwanted or "nuisance" species.
There are two ways to achieve this mixing action, which occurs naturally at the surface through wind action, by using electrically powered mechanical mixers, or through the use of solar-powered laminar flow mixers. The solar-powered mixers require no electrical power source, and are low maintenance, enabling them to be freely employed in large open reservoirs. 20 solar mixing units - called SolarBees - were placed in Lake Houston on April 2006.
Initial results after almost two-year into the study have already indicated positive benefits associated with hypolimnetic aeration.
The City is now evaluating expansion of its source water protection initiatives including purchase of the 20 rental units; installation of additional units; and monitoring treatment of Trinity River water.
Source Water Protection - The Source Water Protection Group partners with numerous government agencies to protect and monitor the rivers, lakes, wetlands and watersheds that empty into the City's drinking water reservoirs. Real-time monitoring systems detect contaminants at numerous locations enabling technicians and operators to identify potential contaminants within our raw water resources. Encouraging local businesses and community groups to report incidents of illegal discharge or dumping assists with maintaining this protection.
A dedicated team of environmental investigators actively monitors lakes and tributaries for industrial discharges and other contaminants. Investigators collect multiple water samples that are tested for a wide spectrum of microorganisms and pollutants.
The Water Works Museum and Education Center - The Waterworks will be a state-of-the-art water museum and education center; only the second of its kind, rivaling a similar exhibition in New York City. The museum is dedicated to the promotion of water education, conservation and stewardship for the benefit of our region, our community, and our children for generations to come.
Offering more than 35 educational, entertaining and interactive exhibits, the museum will focus on the following themes:
- The water cycle
- Why clean water is necessary for life
- Source water protection
- How water is used in daily life
- History of Houston 's public water supply and the Northeast Water Purification
- Basics of drinking water treatment and distribution
- Water conservation principles
- Water facts and figures
- Water Careers
The goal of the center is to enable students (K-12) and the general public to become educated water consumers and citizens committed to water protection and conservation.
The WaterWorks will be housed in the administrative building of the Northeast Water Purification Plant located at Lake Houston, a primary source of drinking water for areas of Houston , Northwest Harris County and the surrounding area for years to come. The Center is a joint project of the Houston Area Water Corporation and the City of Houston. The WaterWorks, which is currently under construction, is scheduled to open to the public in the fall of 2009.
Annual Water Festival - Houston’s Drinking Water Operations staff sponsors an annual water festival to educate citizens about our regional water resources. Water professionals and environmental educators from 50 local, county, and regional environmental agencies and non-profit organizations provide hands-on activities and take-home material for children of all ages.
Corral the Grease - Corral the Grease is a public education project to help prevent blockages in sewer pipes that can cause sanitary sewer overflows. Many times grease accumulates and solidifies inside the pipes and restricts free flow of raw sewage on its way to the wastewater treatment plant. This overloads the system, causing sewage to overflow into streets, yards, and storm ditches, which eventually will pollute the bayous and Galveston Bay . The grease that blocks the sewer pipes generally comes from two sources - commercial and residential kitchens. Commercial establishments, such as restaurants, institutional cafeterias and other public kitchens, are regulated by City ordinance. They are required to install grease traps that must be cleaned periodically. Residents don't have grease traps. The most practical way to reduce grease from residential kitchens is to offer easy ways to prevent grease from entering the sewer pipes in the first place. This can be done as follows:
- Residents collect grease in containers (i.e., used cans, glass jars, etc.).
- Residents dispose of the hardened grease with their regular trash.