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.
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.
Good Afternoon Harris County MUDs 354, 396, 397, and 322
During this challenging time, our top priority remains the health and safety of our employees and communities we serve. Given the pace and magnitude of the changes we are experiencing as a business and as a society, we understand it is important for Waste Management (WM) to keep you informed of the status of the essential services we provide. Included below is our operational update for today, as changes occur WM will keep you informed.
WM’s Operational Update:
Waste Management Encourages Continued Recycling
Recyclable Materials Needed for Manufacturing Supply
Chain to Produce Packaging for Grocery and
Facial tissues, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes have been flying off store shelves, while families are spending more hours at home to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Waste Management (WM) is calling on everyone to Recycle Right during this time when recyclables are needed more than ever. Recycling is vitally important to our environment, and it has come to play a critical role in certain manufacturing supply chains. Without recyclable materials collected from homes and businesses, our customers, who produce products such as tissue, toweling and packaging boxes for grocery and medical supplies, would not have the raw materials that they need to manufacture these important items.Recycling is an essential service for manufacturing companies delivering these key products.
Most recyclers don’t think about the importance of placing their clean recyclable materials in their bins, but now it is more important than ever, as recyclable products are playing a critical role for manufacturing businesses. Across Texas, people are generating more household garbage and recyclable materials than usual, and manufacturers are in need of more clean recyclable materials to meet their demands for making basic goods and emergency supplies. We can all do our part by recycling right during these challenging times.
The North Harris County Regional Water Authority (NHCRWA) fees are going up effective April 1, 2020. This fee is charged to all water well owners in their jurisdiction. This fee is passed on to the final consumer via a line item on the water bill. Currently the fee is $3.85 per 1000 gallons of water used. The new cost will be $4.25 per 1000 gallons. This will increase your bill significantly, depending on how much water you use. The MUD’s charges for the water will not increase, only the NHCRWA fee.
If you have any questions regarding this, please contact the Board of Directors. Remember that the Directors are residents of the District also, and have to pay the same fees.
Your water bill will increase with the April billing cycle.