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The Marble Falls City Council approved about $5.78 million in low-interest loans and certificates of obligations to aid construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, which is expected to cost around $60 million. 

The action took place during the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, May 16, at City Hall.

The city will use the money to expand purple pipe, which transports effluent water, as well as include a direct potable reuse function at the plant to transform sewage water into drinking water through a myriad of high-tech water treatment systems. That technology is currently used by the U.S. Navy, cruise ships, and cities around the world. 

Interest rates for the loans and certificates of obligation bonds range from zero percent to 2.48 percent.

“The amount of energy that has gone into this by our staff is just off the charts,” Mayor Dave Rhodes said. “They’ve done tremendous work thus far. We’re really looking forward to this project.”

Texas Water Development Board grant money will pay for 37 percent of the project.

“It’s really a long process to get on the (grant) list,city Financial Advisor Ryan Cunningham said. “This is really a reflection on the staff for staying on top of it and going after free money that’s available — grant money from the state — for all these projects we have here and going forward in the future.”

Calls for a new wastewater plant began after Marble Falls’ existing plant, built in 1954, reached a capacity of 75 percent over three straight months. Crossing this threshold forced the city to begin plans to expand the plant’s capacity or build a new one to meet Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regulations.

“It’s not like we really want to build a wastewater plant,” Rhodes said. “We have to build a wastewater plant.”

While the current plant has been upgraded over the years, it is well past its lifespan. It also sits in a floodplain near Johnson Park. 

The city began design efforts for a new plant in April 2022.

“Water coming in is always going to be a major concern, but water coming out is something people don’t think a whole lot about,” Councilor Griff Morris said. “It’s very important.”

Rhodes believes the project will set Marble Falls apart from other cities.

“I believe, from many different standpoints, technologically and otherwise, this project will put Marble Falls on the map,” Rhodes said.

The new plant will be built on 49 acres behind Walmart in north Marble Falls. It will have a capacity of 3 million gallons per day, which is double the current plant’s capacity. The new plant’s capacity could be upgraded to 4.5 million gallons per day as the city grows.