Pipe Dreams Become Reality at Encinal Water Supply Corp.

November 2019 -

Located just 49 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, tiny Encinal Water Supply Corporation faced two demands in late 2016: an aging infrastructure and a growing population from the area’s oil boom. Engineer Raul Garcia, principal with Garcia and Wright Consulting Engineers in San Antonio, explains how Encinal WSC found a way to meet its 21st century needs.

How is Encinal WSC different from other rural water systems?

Unlike many of them, Encinal WSC’s entire distribution system lies within a city—in this case, the City of Encinal (pop. 1,075). The utility also operates a sanitary sewer and wastewater treatment system. But like other rural water systems, Encinal WSC has its own board elected by customer-members.

What drove the system upgrade?

Encinal WSC’s water lines were old, small and deteriorating. Among them were 6-inch water pipes too small to meet fire-protection standards and outdated 2-inch cast-iron pipes. The system needed to be able to meet a minimum pressure of 35 PSI at all points within its distribution system at flow rates of at least 1.5 gallons per minute per connection. Further, the expanding petroleum industry has brought a lot of oilfield workers to the area and increased business at truck stops along Interstate Highway 35, which runs through Encinal. The city grew nearly 19 percent between 2015 and 2016, and its median household income rose by 47.5 percent to $36,875. Its job market has increased by 8.1 percent over the last year. Over the next decade, job growth is expected to reach 40.2 percent.

USDA Rural Development announced more than $2.2 million in funding for Encinal WSC in March 2017. What’s that being used for?

It’s replacing older and smaller water main lines as well as fire hydrants in the City of Encinal. We’ll connect all water services to new and larger water lines beneath the city’s streets. Specifically, Encinal WSC is constructing 32,000 linear-feet of 5-inch, 8-inch and 12-inch water mains. It’s also adding 103 water valves, 30 fire hydrants, 167 service connections and 3,340 linear-feet of services lines and appurtenances. The project also includes the Encinal Water Park, which will have a splash pad playground, basketball court, walking trail and baseball facility. We expect to complete the project by mid-December 2019. In all, it will improve water services for residents and local businesses and help the community’s growth.

What role is CoBank playing?

Our project was funded by USDA Rural Development with a loan for $1.3 million and a grant for $973,000. CoBank provided the interim financing so we could move ahead with construction. I had worked with Hunter Hook at CoBank before, so when Encinal WSC was approved for the USDA funding, I suggested that Encinal WSC go to CoBank for an interim loan. Working with CoBank has been great.

What’s next for Encinal WSC?

Encinal WSC uses a lagoon system for its wastewater treatment plant. The goal is to have a mechanical wastewater treatment plant sometime in the future.

Encinal Water Supply Corp.

Headquarters 
Encinal, Texas

Office manager 
Martha Cantu

Years with CoBank 
1

Number of Water Connections 
390

Total Miles of Pipeline
17

Number of Employees
5