Support Community Press

You can show your support of a vibrant and healthy free press by becoming a voluntary subscriber.

Subscribe Now

Private Granite Shoals wastewater plant cited, including for lake sludge

B&W Gatherings Wastewater Treatment Facility in Granite Shoals

B&W Gatherings Wastewater Treatment Facility in Granite Shoals serves Tropical Hideaway and a neighboring condo unit. It is located north of Highcrest Drive between Lakecrest and Moss Down drives and was built in 1980. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

A private wastewater treatment facility in Granite Shoals faces a number of state violations, including sludge entering Lake LBJ. After an investigation that began in the spring, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality notified Aqua Texas Inc., the owner of B&W Gatherings Wastewater Treatment Facility in Granite Shoals, of 11 violations at the facility.

Aqua Texas Communications Manager Donna Alston said the company’s environmental compliance manager, Scot Foltz, was made aware of the citation Sept. 1, and company officials “were still reviewing the details and, therefore, weren’t prepared to provide specific commentary.”

“However, we believe that some of what is cited has to do with the absence of equipment that wasn’t required or part of the design at the time the plant was built,” she said. “We are planning for the complete replacement of the plant in 2023 following the completion of design and permitting at an approximate cost of $650,000. Aqua Texas is committed to providing quality service and is dedicated to maintaining compliance at all of our facilities.”

Granite Shoals City Manager Jeff Looney said he was aware of the violations.

“They appear significant,” he said. “It is our hope they get these matters taken care of quickly because it does affect our citizens and water in the lake.”

TCEQ was made aware of odors from the facility after Granite Shoals residents voiced concerns about the Granite Pointe development during a public hearing May 11. TCEQ investigator Christopher Bost examined the facility, and his subsequent report reflected residents’ concerns.

The self-reported effluent data for March 2020, April 2020, and May 2020 exceeded 75 percent of the permitted daily average flow, TCEQ noted. The reports for April 2020 and May 2020 revealed the facility exceeded 90 percent of the permitted daily average flow. 

At that point, plant owners are required to develop a plan for how to increase service at the facility.

The TCEQ investigation also noted that a sludge blanket in the east clarifier was 12 feet in a 12-foot water depth, which was addressed as part of a violation. Also, the west clarifier was not processing wastewater at the time of the investigation. 

According to the report, the investigation found there wasn’t enough oxygen in the aeration tank or circulation basin for the bacteria to grow and feed on the organic material. When this operates properly, it helps limit odors.

The clarifier was also full of sludge due to a clogged pipe leading to the digester. According to the TCEQ report, sludge was going into Lake LBJ.

Looney said he has had conversations with company representatives after residents asked him what the city was going to do about the violations. The city is not responsible for the privately owned plant.

“I called the people at the plant and told them of the citizens’ concerns,” he said. “I emphasized and pleaded with them to keep us informed. The citizens’ health and safety is a primary issue.”

While Aqua Texas Inc. has been cited for TCEQ violations with some of its other plants, this is the first time the B&W Gatherings Wastewater Treatment Facility has been notified of violations. 

Along with the Granite Pointe development, the wastewater plant also serves 48 homes in Beaver Island, about 30 homes in Web Isle, and an estimated six homes on Lakecrest Drive.

jfierro@thepicayune.com