A permit amendment allowing Buda to discharge up to an additional 1.5 million gallons of treated effluent into a discharge point in the Sunfield Municipal Utility District (MUD) was approved March 7 by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioners.
The decision now allows the city to finalize expansion of its wastewater treatment plant to a capacity of 3.5 million gallons per day.
John Nett, Buda city engineer, said the permit application allows the city a second discharge point for effluent.
Buda and GBRA, which helps operate the city’s WWTP, is permitted to discharge up to 2 million gallons per day of treated effluent into a tributary of Plum Creek, which then flows into the Soil Conservation Site No. 6 reservoir in Kyle.
An update was filed by GBRA and the city in 2015, as part of the city’s WWTP expansion project.
However, several residents are concerned about the permit update, claiming the city’s discharge of effluent is leading to flooding issues in the area. Several area residents filed to contest the city’s discharge permit.
TCEQ commissioners dismissed the contested case requests, claiming it was “difficult” to assess affected parties for a hearing.
That was based on a perceived flood threat of quantity of water from petitioners, as opposed to quality of water, Nett said.
As a result, commissioners approved the permit and did not recognize a contested case hearing.
“They didn’t have jurisdiction over that, so they didn’t think they could rule over that,” said Kenneth Williams, Buda city manager. “They couldn’t give a contested case hearing.”
Williams said March 7 the city’s WWTP expansion project plans are 90 percent complete. Once the plans are completed, Williams said the city will submit them to the TCEQ for review, which is expected to take up to 30 days.
Nett said city officials were “pleased” with the decision, which now allows for them to send the project out for bid and begin on construction.
Construction on the WWTP expansion is expected to last 18 to 24 months.
Nett said the expansion is needed for the city, but also added Buda has not reached a point where construction was direly needed.
According to TCEQ rules, cities must begin the planning phase for WWTP expansion once it reaches 75 percent of its capacity; cities are forced to begin construction if the plant reaches 90 percent capacity.
Buda is currently at 76 percent of its current 2 million MGD capacity.
“We’re not there yet, but had it (the permit) drug on, it would have been a concern that we would have been forced to begin construction,” Nett said.