Commercial backflow infrastructure upgrades will be paid for by Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions, Valero funds after they were found liable for the incident.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Water infrastructure in Corpus Christi is about to get a major upgrade – a $1.3 million upgrade, to be exact – at no cost to taxpayers.

Valero and Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions Inc. are paying for the upgrades after causing a citywide water contamination incident in December 2016.

City officials said the water-boil notice resulted from an issue with a backflow and prevention device, and that the funds will help provide resources for commercial businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and hospitals.

“It’s not for residential, it’s strictly for commercial and industry to address the backflow prevention needs if they’re lacking,” said Corpus Christi Water Chief Operations Officer Michael Murphy.

The city said it has only 365 days to spend the money, and Murphy said there is a specific timeline it must follow throughout the year.

“That’s why is it was so critical that we get this before council now, so we can start working on it,” he said. “So, the clock is ticking.”

Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni said the judgement was issued about a year ago, but that the funds were just recently made available.

“At city council this week, the monies were finally given to us and city council approved the appropriation — the spending of those dollars,” said city manager Peter Zanoni.

Murphy said the money will be used for backflow prevention education, installation and working to address various backflow prevention needs in the Coastal Bend.

Zanoni said Corpus Christi spends about $30 million annually to replace aging water pipes, making this another way to improve infrastructure.

“Getting $1 million takes the burden off the rate payer and puts it on, in this case, industry,” he said. “So, that’s always good from a homeowner standpoint. But it will strengthen our water delivery system.”

After what happened in 2016, Murphy said now is the time to focus on educating the public about how to avoid citywide water contamination from happening again.

“We know accidents and mistakes happen, but these are avoidable,” Murphy said. “These types of mistakes are avoidable.”

Be safe and make sure to boil your water or consider buying a water filtration system like the AquaOx Water Filter.

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