Local cities prep for winter

By Megan Wehring

HAYS COUNTY— While Christmas Day is supposed to be warm, local cities are prepping now for frigid temperatures, following the mess left by Winter Storm Uri in February.

Buda and Dripping Springs are working to keep lines open and preparing to open warming centers, if needed,

“The city’s public works department is working to prepare for possible low temperatures this winter,” said Mike Beggs, Buda public works director and emergency management coordinator. “Though the city cannot prevent power outages, we have taken steps to secure essential facilities should we lose power.”

Using American Rescue Plan Act funding, the city purchased two trailer-mounted generators for the water and wastewater treatment facilities. Buda has five water wells and five elevated storage tanks. The new generators will ensure the city can power the facilities and maintain communication with them in the case of a power outage. The city also rented an additional trailer-mounted generator that will be available until the end of February 2022.

Meanwhile Dripping Springs is using general funds to purchase  an emergency generator that can be used at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park in order to set the park area up as a warming center and/or shelter.

The city also has two small portable utility generators that are each capable of powering a couple of appliances.

Fuel is being stored at Ranch Park so that first responder vehicles have access to an emergency refueling point.

“The city has added a new emergency management vehicle that will allow the city to get to problem areas quicker and to help distribute needed items,” said Lisa Sullivan, communications and marketing director.

Other preparations include other equipment purchases.

In Buda, the new generators will supply backup power to the Night Hawk Lift station, Green Meadows Lift station and Overlook Park Lift station. Other significant lift stations are already equipped with generators. The city added an additional generator to well five, an aquifer storage and recovery well. The city also recently serviced all city-owned generators and added a stabilizer to the diesel fuel so it does not freeze in severely cold weather.

In addition, the city is installing an underground electrical conduit from the existing generator at Inspired Minds Arts Center next to the groundwater storage tank to well one pump house. This will allow the city to monitor the equipment within the pump house should the power go out.

Dripping Springs is purchasing two additional maintenance trucks, which will have tire socks on them to give the tires better traction on ice and in the snow.

And when it comes to traction, Buda Police and the Buda public works departments have added snow chains for police and a stockpile of sand to have available for roads by the Buda public works department.

“We’re hoping this winter is not as severe as the last, but if it is, we’re confident we’ve done everything within our ability to be prepared,” Beggs said.

Residents are reminded to sign up for emergency alerts from their respective cities and from the county.

What can residents do:

• Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze

• Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows

• Insulate walls and attic

• Install storm or thermal-pane windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside

• Repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home or other structure during a storm

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About Author

Megan Navarro (Wehring) graduated from Texas State University in May 2020 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. In June 2020, she started a summer internship at the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch through the Dow Jones News Fund and Texas Press Association. She then earned her way to a reporter position later that summer and now, she serves as the editor of the newspaper. Working for a small publication, Navarro wears multiple hats. She has various responsibilities including managing a team of reporters, making editorial decisions, overseeing social media posts, fact checking, writing her own articles and more. Navarro has a heart for storytelling and she believes that journalists are equipped to share the stories that are important to the community.

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