As division grows over how Wimberley should approach its downtown wastewater issues, city leaders remain unsure of what is the best solution to the problem.
But as the city eyes utilizing water utility provider Aqua Texas, concerns are rising over the impact it could have on the area.
One of the primary issues for business owners on the Wimberley Square is how increased tourism has started to place a strain on the downtown septic system.
But concerns also extend to projections showing Wimberley could incur nearly $400,000 in debt, should it move forward with plans for a self-operated sewer system.
Currently, most businesses on the Square do not have bathrooms to service customers. Instead, tourists must use portable toilets that have been installed in the main parking area at the Square.
Michele Woods, owner of a downtown coffee shop on the Square, said the current state of downtown wastewater is hindering business.
“Not much has changed but we are fortunate that we have the portable restrooms now,” Woods said. “Now, we can point customers to a public restroom facility, but we know it’s not a long-term solution.”
As a business that predominantly serves beverages to its clientele, Woods’ employees must stay cognizant of the amount of water used because of the septic system.
“I would prefer for the city to handle the operation of the sewage system,” Woods said. “Aqua Texas does not have the best reputation in the area, and I’m not sure they have Wimberley’s best interest in mind.”
Woods said the city of Wimberley has not reached out to her about the potential switch to a city sewage system, despite previous conversations indicating the city would be contacting local business owners.
In a previous interview, Aqua Texas President Bob Laughman assured the Wimberley community that the company is not forcing the city to choose Aqua Texas but is committed to providing the sewer system if that’s the route chosen.
An official statement from Aqua Texas to the News-Dispatch said the company remains willing and capable to help Wimberley handle its wastewater treatment.
“We respect the city’s deliberation and await its decision,” the statement read.
Wimberley has not pulled the trigger on the decision to retain Aqua Texas for its sewage system. Mayor Susan Jaggers and Wimberley city staff did not respond for a comment at the publication of this story.
“For now, the portable restrooms serve its purpose,” Woods said. “There is a lot of controversy about it. Sure, it’s not ideal, and it’s not pretty to look at, but it helps.”