City suspects poor drainage behind mystery water buildup at Four Corners

City personnel believe drainage problems at the intersection of Hwy. 173 and Hwy. 132, commonly known as the Four Corners, are behind what was thought to be an underground water leak in the area.
Public Works Director Ismael Carrillo updated the Devine City Council on the issue at an emergency meeting held Monday, April 30.
“[TxDot] started milling there on 173 and 132, and they found some water underneath the pavement,” Carrillo said. “They called us over to see if we could determine where the water was coming from and if we had any underground utilities there. To my knowledge, we do not.”
Carrillo said he looked at City maps and checked with retired Public Works personnel, and there was no indication of any water or sewer lines.
The City closed down the area around the 173/132 intersection at 7:00 pm on April 22 and contracted with a company from Boerne to use a sonar to search for underground pipes. The only thing located was an unused gas line.
“The following day, we went in there and dug some more,” Carrillo said, “just to see if we could find where the water was coming from.”
Samples taken to a lab in San Antonio came back negative for chlorine, ruling out the City water system as the source of the water.
City Engineer Raul Garcia was on site during the dig.
“When they took the samples, I noticed that the water was not coming in through the bottom,” Garcia said. “It was coming in through the base, below the asphalt.”
Garcia theorized that drainage in the intersection is not sufficient, which leads to standing water during and after rain.
“So what I’m thinking is that the problem is not water lines, sewer lines, it’s [rain] water ponds in there, water stands there,” Garcia said. “Eventually, it either goes down the drain or seeps down into the pavement, the base of the pavement and stays there.”
Drainage in the intersection is located on the east side of Hwy. 132, along the crosswalk between Churchs Chicken and Pico’s, and features what Garcia estimated are 1 1/4″ slots for water runoff. Water in the area drains along Hwy. 132 before eventually discharging into Burnt Boot Creek past Fox’s Bar.
Carrillo explained that bull rock, that is four to five inches in diameter, was covered with base that was then covered with asphalt.
“So right now, what’s it’s doing every time we dig, as we dig in that area where there’s bull rock, it’s just like a cavity that fills up with water, to where when we dig it up, water starts flowing in from all directions,” Carrillo said. “We let it go for a little bit, and then it dries up.”
Garcia said that the City has done as much as it can do.
“The first thing TxDot did, was they pointed at the City,” Garcia said. “We’ve tried everything. The lab reports show that it’s not cistern water and it’s not sewer water. Where is it coming from? Storm water.”
Garcia suggested that the City write TxDot a letter describing all the steps that have been taken and stating that test results show the water isn’t from the City’s utility system.
District 4 Councilwoman Jennifer Schott asked if the water issue would affect the quality of the road.
“Should we push [TxDot] to fix the issue before they continue the road?” Schott asked.
City Attorney Tom Cate said that he didn’t think TxDot would address it.
“Based on what their engineer has told Dora [Rodriguez, Interim City Administrator], they’re ready to get this project completed,” Cate said. “Their contractor is anxious to get through so he can move off the job site. We’ve done everything that we can do, and if they continue to have problems, it’s going to be up to them to figure it out.”
Mayor Bill Herring said that a TxDot representative said they would look into the drainage issue when work begins on Hwy. 132, which is currently slated for early 2020.
A motion by District 2 Councilman Steve Lopez and Schott to send TxDot a letter detailing the steps the City has taken to try and locate a possible leak, as well as test results showing water samples don’t contain chlorine, passed 4-0, with District 3 Councilman David Espinosa and District 5 Councilman Cory Thompson voting for the measure.
District 1 Councilman David Valdez was absent.
Herring thanked Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown, deputies with the Medina County Sheriff’s Department, Pct. 3 Constable Stephen Duffy, and Pct. 4 Constable Malcolm Watson for their help with traffic control while the City’s Public Works employees were digging.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer