Texas Campaign for the Environment: News
Valley Morning Star, September 26, 2012 By Fernando del Vallle
Officials request public hearings for sewer plant
Two state representatives have requested that the state hold public hearings into a company’s proposal to use the city’s sewer plant to treat grease trap and grit trap waste near the banks of the Arroyo Colorado.
Partners Dewatering International LLC., a San Antonio company, presented its plan to Rio Hondo city commissioners Tuesday, about three years after it signed an initial agreement with the city to launch the operation.
The company has proposed construction of a facility that would break down restaurant and car wash liquid wastes into effluent that would be treated in the city’s sewer plant near the arroyo, which runs into the Laguna Madre.
State Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, and state Rep. J.M. Lozano, D-Kingsville, have requested the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality hold public hearings into the company’s proposal.
“Rio Hondo residents are very upset. They deserve their voices to be heard,” Oliveira said in a press release Tuesday. “They need every assurance that their health and safety is protected. Potentially toxic, odorous or dangerous materials should not be processed near children, families and water sources.”
Carter Mayfield, the company’s finance director, said the proposed processing facility would separate liquid waste that would be treated by the sewer plant to become environmen-tally safe effluent. Solid waste, or sludge, would be composted at a site outside the Rio Grande Valley or disposed of at Donna’s landfill, Mayfield said.
The company would pay the city about $1,500 a month to use its sewer plant, Mayfield said.
“The attitude here is pro-business and that’s what we like to see,” Mayfield told commissioners.
The company’s clients include H-E-B and Valero, Jess Mayfield, an official with the company, told commissioners.
The company would pay fines in the event of any state violation, Jess Mayfield said.
“If we cause a problem, we’ll financially reimburse the city,” he said.
The city’s sewer plant, with a daily capacity to treat 400,000 gallons of wastewater, has the capacity to treat the company’s waste, Jess Mayfield said.
The company would add about 50,000 gallons of waste a day to the plant that treats about 138,000 gallons a day, he said.
But Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign for the Environment in Austin, said the company’s proposal threatens the arroyo’s water.
“We think it’s not a good idea to have toxic liquid waste that contains arsenic and other metals and petrochemical waste to go to small wastewater treatment plants that are not constructed to deal with those wastes,” Schneider said in an interview.
Andrea Morrow, a spokeswoman with the TCEQ in Austin, said a public meeting is pending.
“If approved, the processing facility will dewater grease and grit trap waste and sep-tage,” Morrow said in a press release. “Incoming grease and grit trap and septage wastes will be stored and processed within enclosed tanks and dewatering boxes covered with a tarpaulin.”
Tanks and dewatering boxes would be located on the sewer plant’s drying beds, Morrow said.
“Following processing, liquids separated from the grease and grit trap and septage waste will be piped back to the (sewer plant) for treatment,” Morrow said. “Solids will be loaded into a truck and transported off-site for beneficial use or final disposal in a landfill.”