By Belle Nelson
The City of Buda won’t dump treated wastewater into Onion Creek, even though it’s within the safe and sanitary conditions established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
That announcement came during the council’s Oct. 13 regular meeting as part of a press release issued by the city.
Although it is more cost effective to do so, the city is concerned with the long term effect on the community and environment.
Buda’s decision to not dump effluent into Onion Creek is multi-faceted.
According to Ruge, Onion Creek is a slow moving body of water, and adding treated wastewater to it, no matter the quality of water, could potentially cause accelerated algae growth.
That, in turn, could have adverse effects on the surrounding ecosystem.
Plum Creek was considered an alternative for the effluent because Plum Creek wouldn’t experience the problem of algae growth Onion Creek would.
But Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said the city wants to be “good stewards” and is “looking for ways to use this water for the community.”
The treated wastewater is safe to use for watering lawns, and containing dust during the construction of new housing.
Buda is hoping that the treated water can be used in place of drinking water to maintain the landscapes of public parks and golf courses, as well as residential lawns. Buda currently uses Type I reclaimed water to irrigate parks and road medians.
“The water still holds value”, Ruge said. “And we’re making an effort to use it to our benefit.”
There is also a considerable amount of new housing being built in Buda, which can generate a large amount of sediment in the air.
“We’re making the treated water available to construction companies who can use it to avoid kicking up so much dust,” Ruge said.
Utilizing the treated wastewater wisely can also be beneficial to the water conservation campaign.
Residents can “upcycle” the treated effluent and use it appropriately outside their homes to help conserve drinking water.
“It may not seem like much, but on average, the water consumption per household is down 20 gallons,” Ruge said.
With over 6,000 houses in Buda, 20 gallons per house begins to add up quickly, according to Ruge.
“We’re hoping to continue setting the standard of water conservation, and using the treated wastewater to the best of our abilities is just another step in the right direction,” Ruge said.
Cost effectiveness is another aspect that has been considered.
“We owe it to our tax- payers to look at every available option,” Ruge said.
Although the difference in dumping the treated water and expanding the current wastewater treatment facility is in the millions, Ruge said being a good steward was more important.
“We felt as a city and as a community that it was more important to be good stewards not only to the City of Buda, but to the entire region,” Ruge said.
Plans are already underway to expand the current water treatment facility. Buda is hoping to attain an amended permit to get the process going.
The process of expanding the plant is mandated by TCEQ for expansion of water facilities. Buda plans to increase capacity for water treated at the plant from .95 million to 1.5 million gallons per day (mgd).
“Even though it will cost more short term, if we can continue to use the treated wastewater to the benefit of the community, the environment and the people of Buda will hopefully benefit more in the long term”, said Ruge.