After just getting through one of the worst water crises in its history, the City of Daisetta now is poised to receive $2.3 million in funding assistance from the Texas Water Development Board. The funding is expected to pay for the drilling of a new water well for Daisetta residents and businesses.
Last week, the City was notified by letter from TWDB that it is eligible for $1,310,280 in grant funding and another $980,000 in a zero-interest loan. Of the $1.3 million grant, $410,280 is for being a Disadvantaged Community, $300,000 is for being part of a Very Small System, and $600,000 was for Urgent Need.
Terms like “Urgent Need and Disadvantaged Community” are an understatement for Daisetta Councilwoman Cindy Birchfield who led the charge in getting the grant for the City of Daisetta. Birchfield, also an employee of Hull Fresh Water Supply District (HFWSD), knows too well how dependent the City of Daisetta is on its neighbors in Hull and how a sudden interruption in service, like the one last month when a HFWSD water pump failed, can cripple the both communities.
“I burst into tears when I got this letter about the grant. We still have to go before the Texas Water Development Board on Dec. 15 for final approval, but I don’t see any obstacles there,” said Birchfield.
Birchfield has been the driving force of the grant even before it was submitted in March 2021.
“Most people don’t know it but there isn’t a program in place in Texas for sudden and unexpected water loss. There is nothing. You just have to start applying for grants and make it work until you get approved. Bigger cities have bigger budgets, and they might be able to squeeze a million dollars here or there, but disadvantaged communities like Daisetta have nothing. There is no skipping to the line and moving to the front just because you need the money more than others,” Birchfield said.
In October 2022, thousands of residents in Daisetta and Hull were left without safe and adequate drinking water when the pump failed, and it took a couple of weeks of testing and retesting water samples by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to ensure that the water was safe for use.
Once the new water well is dug, it will provide some redundancy for the two neighboring communities, said Daisetta Mayor Eric Thaxton.
“What we will do is dig the water well and put in water line back to our existing facilities where our pump station and ground storage tank is located. Then we can pump the water to water customers in the City of Daisetta. We will still have the interconnect with Hull, so if they ever run out of water or have another mechanical failure, we can direct our water to them, and vice versa. We want to be a good neighbor to Hull because they have been a good neighbor to Daisetta,” Thaxton said.
When asked why the City of Daisetta had not already secured a loan for a new water well prior to the water crisis in October, Thaxton said it came down to finances.
“We could have gotten a bond for the water well but we couldn’t have paid it back. Those costs would have been passed on to our residents and businesses. We would have had to go up on our taxes and water rates. People here can’t afford that. Our little city is small and there isn’t a lot of revenue,” the mayor said.
Once the funding is formally approved in December, the City will begin the next step in the project – buying a property for the well site. As the City of Daisetta is on a salt dome, the water well must be located in Hull. Thaxton said he is hoping to find a 2-4 acre tract that is suitable for the project. Thaxton added that the City would not turn down the donation of a parcel.
“I feel good about this grant. I really do. We are going to put it in God’s hands,” he said.
With environmental studies, drilling the well and running new lines, Thaxton estimates it will be at least two years before the project is complete.
“We are excited about it. I am ready to close this chapter of our lives,” he said.