Water employees hold down the fort

As the rain from Hurricane Harvey started on Saturday, and most area residents were glancing outside and thinking about a run to the grocery store, a group of 30 people were gathered at Kingwood's water station, operated by Severn Trent Environmental, planning.

They knew the water system for Kingwood is a top priority, and they hunkered down for the storm.

Today, six days later, they are finally going home for the night.

They have not been home during the interval, sleeping at the Kingwood water plants.

"First we bunked at the plant in Mills Branch, but it got flooded. The we move to the one near the Kingwood Country Club, but it was flooded too," said Jon Dawson, project manager for Severn Trent Environmental, the company that manages Kingwood's water operations.

Dawson said the group of 24 people moved one last time and then 'bunkered in." Six left after their shift and could not return. The rest were marooned here.

Dawson said they slept at the water plants, despite the conditions.

"Every time we would get to sleep, the pumps would start. It was pretty noisy," he said.  Dawson did not say what the group slept on or what they ate.

For the last five nights, this secret army has been on post, watching, managing and monitoring the water supply of the community.

"We have been here the entire time," he said.

Dawson is aware of the rumors circulating on social media that the water filtration system did, or will imminently, fail.

"Everything is fine. We have sampled and tested the water daily. We are in great shape," he said.

The water in Kingwood is tested daily, as is the delivery process.

There are six water plants in Kingwood and four water towers, positioned 150 feet up, in the community. All are fully operational. The plant on Rustic Woods did lose power briefly, he said, but was restored quickly.

"I have gotten probably 50 emails about the water system but it is fully operational," he said.

The four water towers in Kingwood hold water, cumulatively 8 million gallons, an amount to serve Kingwood's needs for 3 days.

"There are 8 million gallons of water in the air all the time," he said.

If the water plants stopped operating, we would have enough water to last two to three days, and by gravity, it would flow into every home," he said.

There are approximately 78,000 connections, or homes, in Kingwood's water system.

Kingwood has a sealed system, Dawson said, and no rain or flood water can breach it. If by some unforeseen chance it was breached, a huge water spot would occur.

Tonight, these folks are heading homes to the families they have not seen in six days, but tomorrow they will all be back on the job.

"This is not a job where we can take off. We are here every day, every hour of the day."
Cynthia Calvert
Author: Cynthia CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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A trained journalist with a masters degree from Lamar University, a masters from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as extensive coursework toward a masters of science in psychology from the University of New Orleans, Calvert founded the Tribune Newspapers in 2007. Her experiences as an investigative, award winning reporter (She won Journalist of the Year from the Houston Press Club among many other awards for reporting and writing), professor and chair of the journalism department for Lone Star College-Kingwood and vice president of editorial for a large group of community weeklies provides her with a triple dose of bankable skills that cover every aspect of the journalism field. Solid reporting. Careful interviews. Respect and curiosity for people and places.