The Board of Directors of Harris County Water Control & Improvement District No. 155, which manages the drainage channels in Fairfield, has changed its regular meeting date and location to the 4th Monday of the month at 5 p.m. in Fairfield. The Board will meet at the Bradford Creek Clubhouse, 15011 Fairfield Green Circle, or Lakeside Trails Clubhouse, 15125 Country Fair Lane, depending on availability. The public is welcome to attend and participate in the public comments section of the meeting. The public may also attend by teleconference or videoconference as described on the agenda for each meeting.
One of the most important functions of the Fairfield Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs), consisting of Harris County MUD Nos. 322, 354, 358, 396, and 397, is to provide drainage and detention facilities for the Fairfield community. One of the central drainage and detention features of the Fairfield community is the approximately 400-acre regional detention facility site located south of State Highway 290, and west of Fry Road, just north of Cypress Creek, as generally shown on the above map. The Fairfield MUDs and the Harris County Flood Control District (Flood Control) operate and maintain the property for drainage and detention purposes for the benefit of the Fairfield community. The facilities on the property currently include a regional detention basin, control structure, and approximately 30-acre levee. The property is maintained solely as a drainage and detention facility, and neither the MUDs nor Flood Control has constructed any park or recreational facilities on the property. In addition, the property is not and has never been open for public access.
Over the years, the Fairfield MUDs received reports of isolated incidents of individuals accessing the property for recreational purposes. Starting more than a decade ago, the Fairfield MUDs installed certain fencing, locked gates, and no trespassing signs at known or suspected access points to try to deter trespassing incidents, particularly in light of potential safety risks to residents posed by the levee and associated facilities, and the risk of damage to critical MUD and Flood Control drainage and detention infrastructure. Nevertheless, in early 2020, as more individuals began to spend additional time at home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the land surrounding the property continued to develop, the Fairfield MUDs began to receive a significantly greater number of reports of trespassing incidents on the property.
In response to these reports, the Fairfield MUDs installed security cameras and worked with the Harris County Constable’s Office, Precinct 4 and the MUDs’ maintenance contractor to enhance security measures and enforcement to prevent unauthorized access to the property and to deter future trespassing incidents. During the course of these efforts, the MUDs discovered that individuals had damaged the property by constructing unauthorized trails, bike ramps, and other facilities on the property. The Fairfield MUDs also experienced theft of security cameras and no trespassing signs on multiple occasions. Repairing the damage and replacing the stolen property cost the Fairfield MUDs thousands of dollars. However, the enforcement efforts have been successful in reducing the number of trespassing incidents.
In late fall 2020, the Fairfield MUDs were approached by a local biking group, which requested that the MUDs consider opening the property for recreational use. The group acknowledged constructing unauthorized trails and bike ramps and accessing the property without permission. They stated they had asked their members to cease unauthorized access to the property, and they requested to partner with the Fairfield MUDs and Flood Control to open the property for recreational use. The Fairfield MUDs also received correspondence from individuals, many of whom were non-Fairfield residents, requesting that the property be opened for public recreational use.
MUDs in Harris County, like the Fairfield MUDs, currently are authorized to construct and maintain parks and recreational facilities. However, MUDs were not granted those powers until the 2000s, well after the Fairfield MUDs were created and began operating. As a result, the agreement between the Fairfield MUDs for the construction and operation of regional facilities like the property provides that the property will be operated and maintained for its intended drainage and detention facility purposes. The agreement does not provide a funding mechanism for the Fairfield MUDs to construct and maintain parks or recreational facilities on the property. This means the Fairfield MUDs each would have to contribute additional funds if any parks or recreational facilities were going to be developed and operated on the property.
The Fairfield MUDs each carefully considered the request to open the property for recreational use. Ultimately, due to significant concerns regarding potential damage to critical drainage and flood control infrastructure, safety, potential liability, and cost, the Fairfield MUDs determined to continue operating the property solely for drainage and detention purposes and to deny the request to open the property for recreational use. Although the Fairfield MUDs understand that parks and recreational facilities can be a beneficial part of any community, the MUDs do not want to take any action that could potentially negatively impact the drainage and detention functionality of the property or increase flood risk. Additionally, due to federal, state, and local regulatory requirements for parks and recreational facilities operated by local governments like MUDs, and the large acreage and rugged terrain of the property, the Fairfield MUDs expect that developing safe, accessible parks or recreational facilities on the property while still protecting the critical flood control infrastructure could be cost prohibitive.
The Fairfield MUDs will continue enforcement efforts to prevent and deter unauthorized access and damage to the property. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in protecting this important flood control feature for our community.
On April 1, 2021, the North Harris County Regional Water Authority will increase the fee it charges on groundwater pumped within its boundaries from $4.25 per 1,000 gallons to $4.60 per 1,000 gallons.
This increase will affect all water customers in Fairfield. The North Harris County Regional Water Authority fee is a separate line item on customer bills which the Fairfield MUDs collect and pass through to the North Harris County Regional Water Authority. The Fairfield MUDs have no control over this fee and do not charge any sort of mark up on it.
WHAT IS THE REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITY?
The North Harris County Regional Water Authority is a political subdivision of the State covering northwest Harris County outside of the City of Houston. Its purpose is to provide surface water to the area within its boundaries in order to reduce the pumping of groundwater from the local aquifer. Because of the increase in population in northwest Harris County, too much groundwater is being taken from the ground, causing the ground to sink.
The North Harris County Regional Water Authority is under a mandate to reduce the groundwater usage in its boundaries from 70% to 40% by 2025. To comply with this mandate, the North Harris County Regional Water Authority is participating in several very expensive projects to provide surface water to local MUDs, cities, and private utilities. It is paying its share of the Luce Bayou project which transfers water from the Trinity River to Lake Houston, the expansion of the Lake Houston water purification plant, and the transmission lines and pumping stations to bring the water from Lake Houston to the area within its boundaries.
To pay for these costs, the Authority’s fee has increased annually and is expected to continue to do so. If it isn’t already, it will soon be the biggest part of the water bill.
WHAT CAN RESIDENTS DO?
Residents can find out more about North Harris County Regional Water Authority at www.nhcrwa.org. The Board of Directors of the Authority holds monthly meetings, which are open to the public. Members of the Board of Directors are elected by district. Fairfield is in District 1.
Residents can learn more about water conservation. The less water the resident uses, the lower the bill. to learn more about water conservation, visit a website about ways to conserve water usage in your home. There are many on the internet these days, such as www.savewatertexas.com, that contain a lot of educational items for a homeowner.
SPECIAL STORM DEBRIS PICKUP ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021
Waste Management will be running trucks throughout Fairfield on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021 for pickup of storm debris starting at 7 a.m. Please bring all storm debris out to the curb without blocking the roadway or storm drains. Do not put the debris by trees, poles, fire hydrants or other structures.
Permitted storm debris includes furniture, flooring, carpet, sheetrock, pipes, logs, branches, leaves (DO NOT BAG), appliances, electronics and household waste. Do not put storm debris with your regular trash or recycling as Waste Management will collect it separately.
This service is being provided by the Fairfield MUDs: Harris County Municipal Utility District Nos. 322, 354, 396 and 397. For updates sign up for email/text blasts.
Fairfield’s water operator, Inframark, has confirmed as of 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 18, 2021 that Fairfield is NOT under a boil water notice. Fairfield has its own water wells and is not affected by the City of Houston’s water outages. Check here for further alerts.
Fairfield residents, it is time to prepare for colder temperatures! There is a Freeze Watch in effect for Sunday night through Tuesday morning, February 14th – February 16, 2021. Temperatures are expected to drop to freezing levels overnight.
How can District residents prepare? Practice the “Four P’s” as the cold fronts set in:
- Dress in warm clothing, wear coats and gloves when outdoors.
- Protect children and the elderly. Never leave them in a cold place or vehicle.
- Temperatures are predicted to be in the teens Monday night and Tuesday morning.
- Bring your pets indoors.
- Provide a warm, safe place for them to eat and sleep.
- Prevent frozen pipes and damage to your home by opening the cabinets under the kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warm air to circulate and warm the pipes.
- Insulate outdoor faucets and exposed pipes and be sure to disconnect and drain hoses from outdoor spigots.
- Protect plants from freezing by covering them with plant-cover fabric, or a light blanket with plastic sheeting on top of it.
- Hydrate plants early so they can absorb and stay healthy through the cold.
Additionally, there are a few vehicle-safety tips to observe during winter weather:
- Keep your gas tank full.
- Have tire pressure checked.
- Have a phone charger, first aid kit, blankets, and jumper cables in your car.
- Check local road conditions at www.houstontranstar.org. State highway information available at www.drivetexas.org.
Lastly, Fire Departments have provided some safety tips surrounding space heaters and other supplemental heating sources during the colder days:
- Never leave a space heater unattended or a child unattended with a space heater.
- Keep all combustible materials (including yourself!) at least three (3) feet away from the heater.
- Never overload outlets or breakers.
- Do not use extension cords for the heater.
- Always turn it off if leaving the room and/or going to sleep.
Trash pickup during the upcoming holidays will be the day prior. See details below.
The Board of Directors of Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 396 (the “District”) has decided to retain the current base customer rate of $43.32 per month for water, sewer, trash, recycling, and supplemental security services, despite an increase in the trash and recycling rate from Waste Management effective September 1, 2020. The District plans to use funds on hand to pay for the increase.