Looking Back, Looking Forward

By Traci Read, Senior Editor | February 2010 Vol. 65 No. 2
Michael Marcotte speaks to the UCTA.

He went on to explain that as people use less water due to conservation issues and move in to smaller homes that require less water use, this situation creates a “perfect storm.”

“While this may be good for conservationists, it’s not good for businesses that support the infrastructure,” Marcotte said. “With labor costs rising, and water and sewer rates increasing, there is a storm coming. To help combat this storm, the city has employed a company to help them look at ways to be more efficient.”

Flooding issues and the aftermath of Hurricane Ike also has brought the city face-to-face with critical infrastructure issues.

“What was once a force of nature is now a critical infrastructure challenge for Houston,” he said. “We’re learning how to deal with the reality of a 10-inch rainfall in areas that are heavily populated. Hurricane Ike also brought the city face-to-face with water and wastewater systems that are dependent on electrical power. When power outages occurred during the hurricane, the city experienced problems with the water and wastewater systems. Dealing with the reliability of systems during extended power outages is going to require more attention and funds.”

To help resolve these existing challenges more effectively and at a cost savings, Marcotte suggested the city find new technology that works faster, harder and smarter. “Addressing water quality, in particular in Buffalo Bayou, should be of high importance if the city is going to make it a show place for Houstonians,” stressed Marcotte. “At present, it’s not a place you’d even want to dip your toe into due to water quality issues and bacteria.”

Other challenges Marcotte discussed included the most effective use of right-of-ways; balancing the needs of transportation without restricting mobility or construction limits that may have an impact on travel while projects are in progress; and a need for continuing discussion on density (urban sprawl) and how this impacts drainage.

Marcotte closed the meeting by expressing a desire to work with the new mayor during her new term to transition as seamlessly as possible so Houstonians will not experience interrupted service.

For details about UCTA or to attend a meeting, go to www.uctaonline.org.