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Marble Falls OKs $1.1M design contract for new wastewater treatment plant

Marble Falls OKs $1.1M design contract for new wastewater treatment plant

The Marble Falls City Council voted to enter into a contract to begin the design portion of a new wastewater treatment plant during its April 20 meeting. Just two days later, the city was awarded grant and loan funding to possibly relocate the existing plant to a new site. Staff photo

The city of Marble Falls entered into a $1.1 million contract for design and engineering services with the Austin-based firm Plummer to build a new wastewater treatment plant. The vote came during the council’s meeting Tuesday, April 20.

The city’s existing 1.5-million-gallon-per-day treatment plant, located near Johnson Park, previously reached 75 percent capacity three months in a row, resulting in a state requirement to increase plant capacity. 

The city’s goal is to create a new wastewater treatment plant that could eventually treat 3 million gallons per day, according to City Engineer Kacey Paul. 

“That will save quite a bit in operation and maintenance costs,” Paul explained. 

The council chose to begin a phased approach to the design process for the new wastewater treatment plant. During Phase 1, Plummer will complete 30 percent of total plant designs, preliminary engineering, and other elements. Designing the project is budgeted at $3.1 million. 

In 2020, the city was awarded a $2.5 million Economic Development Assistance grant to use toward designing the new plant, which would be built on a 49-acre piece of land behind Walmart on U.S. 281. The new site is large enough for the city to continue expanding capacity if needed in the future, Paul said. 

Before voting to approve the contract, Councilor Dave Rhodes expressed concerns about entering into the design phase before reaching a concrete decision about the size of the new plant.

“In (the contract), it basically says they are entering into the design of a 1.5 MGD (million-gallon-per-day) plant,” Rhodes said. “I can’t say that that’s what we’re doing. I want options.” 

While the EDA grant covers costs associated with the designs of a new plant, the city is also considering relocating the existing plant, which currently sits in the city’s floodplain. 

On April 22, the Texas Water Development Board announced it would provide Marble Falls $31.3 million in Flood Infrastructure Funds for drainage and flood mitigation projects. A majority of the funding, a $13.8 million grant and a $16.6 million zero-percent interest loan, was awarded to the city to relocate the existing plant to the same new site. 

The relocation of the existing plant has not been approved by the council, although the land for the plant was purchased two months ago from the Lower Colorado River Authority. The city agreed to pay $107,800 for the 49 acres, which are part of a 228-acre tract owned by the LCRA. 

Paul anticipates the council will discuss future action on relocation possibilities sometime in the next two months.