Residents in a rural area of Nueces County will have to wait a little longer for the completion of a project aiming to provide clean drinking water for more than 100 people.

The county went out for bids in February for the construction of a water distribution system for San Petronilla Estates 2. The area is located on County Road 63, just outside Petronilla, in rural Nueces County.

A $563,000 grant awarded to the county in 2006 from the Office of Rural Community Affairs is being used to fund the project, which will take place in two parts, said Grants Administrator Roxie Hunt.

The first phase will include installing new pipes to the area that will carry water to about 100 residents in the area. Presently, those residents are reliant on well water for their drinking water, which is not treated by a water treatment plant like most urban areas.

The second phase will include the installation of a line needed to integrate the new lines into Violet Water Supply's system.

However, a delay has occurred with the county's phase due to difficulties gathering easements from property owners just outside the project's area.

"The acquisition process (for off-site easements) has taken a lot longer because some of the people haven't responded yet," Hunt said.

The San Petronilla Estates 2 project is one of three the county is working on. Work on installing new water lines in the Twin Lakes Subdivision in Calallen has not begun yet, and contractors have been given the notice to proceed in the Rose Acres Colonia in Corpus Christi.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria, whose precinct includes San Petronilla Estates 2, could not be reached for comment, but has said previously the danger to residents in the colonias comes when rains occur and flood conditions arise.

Because most of the households in rural areas also rely on underground septic systems for waste disposal, sometimes the drinking water can become contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria.

Flush valves, which are the rural area equivalent of a fire hydrant, will also be installed in the San Petronilla Estates 2 project to help emergency crews in case of fire.

The county approved submitting a contract extension request to ORCA to extend the contract period 12 months to July 2009. The project had originally been scheduled for completion by the end of summer.

"We don't think it's going to take the full 12 months, but they only allow one type of extension," Hunt said. "We don't foresee any more problems - it's just taking longer than we expected.

The work will only be for new water lines to be installed. Waste disposal lines will not be included, but may be looked at in the future, county officials said.

Violet Water Supply will incorporate the new lines into the water company's existing water lines after the county is done with its project. The company's work will be paid for through a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.