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Aqua Texas to replace failing wastewater plant in Granite Shoals

Brent Reeh of Aqua Texas at Granite Shoals City Council

Aqua Texas Central Texas Area Manager Brent Reeh explains to the Granite Shoals City Council plans for a new wastewater treatment plant to be built in the city. Reeh also attempted to address concerns from the council about past failures of the current wastewater plant. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

A replacement wastewater treatment plant is in the works to service several Granite Shoals communities, including Tropical Hideaway and the incoming Granite Pointe subdivision. Representatives from Aqua Texas briefed the Granite Shoals City Council on Jan. 24 on plans to build a new plant by the summer of 2024, but they floundered when answering for the current plant’s failures in recent years.

“I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but we do have plans,” said Aqua Texas Central Texas Area Manager Brent Reeh, when he came before the council. “We have an engineer signed up to design a new wastewater plant at Tropical Hideaway.”

The new plant will replace the existing one that has been the center of controversy since at least 2021, when it was cited for 11 violations by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. More recently, the plant spilled 2,000 gallons of sewage around the property of the Tropical Hideaway condominiums over Thanksgiving weekend in 2022. 

The new plant is being built in accordance with a contract between Aqua Texas and the developers of Granite Pointe, Sterling Creek Holdings. It will have a higher processing capacity, operate more efficiently, and produce less odor, according to Aqua Texas representatives. The cost is expected to be about $2.5 million to $3 million.

The old plant will continue to function until the new one is completed and fully operational. 

Reeh’s appearance was the first time an Aqua Texas representative attended a Granite Shoals council meeting despite repeated requests from city officials for someone to explain the plant’s recurring failures.

Reeh acknowledged the problem.

“I will say that our communication hasn’t been that good,” he said. “But we are working on it, and we will be working with the (Tropical Hideaway) Homeowners Association to get communication out there.”

The new plant will service current customers, including Tropical Hideaway, and is also contracted to provide wastewater services to the Granite Pointe subdivision now under construction.

Granite Pointe’s lead engineer, Ivalu Rose, also spoke to the council during the Jan. 24 meeting, confirming that Aqua Texas is under contract to build a plant to accommodate the subdivision and that homes cannot be occupied until the new plant is up and running.

According to Reeh, the current plant does not operate near its full processing capacity, and the Thanksgiving leak was due to an electrical malfunction not a capacity issue. He said that issue has been fixed.

“Fifty percent (processing capacity) is our average, going up to 65 percent in summer months sometimes,” he told the council.

Place 1 Councilor Ron Munos, who lives near the plant, said he is familiar with the overflow, odors, and alarms that emanate from it.

“What about holidays?” he asked. “I live at Tropical Hideaway, so this is near and dear to me.”

Reeh said he only had averages, not daily data. 

Place 3 Councilor Samantha Ortis laid out some concerns over the plant’s past failures using data from the TCEQ.

“In September 2021, that plant was cited with 11 (TCEQ) violations and, reportedly for all of 2020, was operating at 75 percent of its daily average and exceeded 90 percent several times in 2020,” she said. “So what’s changed from 2020 to 2021 to improve your daily level capacity?”

“I’m not sure, I’ll have to look at the violations and everything,” Reeh responded. “I was not aware that it was that high to be honest. I’ll have to get back with you.”