Squabbles continue over proposed sewage plant location in Wimberley

Debate over Wimberley’s wastewater issues continued this week as parties on all sides squabbled about the location of proposed treatment facilities.

While proponents of an Aqua Texas-operated wastewater facility worry that a city-owned plant would be built in Blue Hole Regional Park, those who back the latter plan refute those claims, citing documents that prohibit such a move.

Supporters of the Aqua Texas wastewater facility have advocated against a wastewater plant in the middle of the park believing that it could deter tourism and create a bad smell.

However, an aerial view of Blue Hole indicates a city-owned plant would be located outside of the park boundaries.

According to documentation, Wimberley is unable to use the park for anything other than public recreation.

A grant issued in 2004 by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to Wimberley for the purchase and development of Blue Hole Regional Park prohibits the city from using in perpetuity any part of the park for any other use that public recreation.

Friends of Blue Hole (FoBH) Chairman Andrew Weber disagreed with the notion that a city-owned plant could be located in the park.

An existing wastewater treatment plant that services Deer Creek, currently located within Blue Hole Park, was grandfathered in per the agreement. Weber said that plant is expected to be decommissioned once a new sewage system is online. Weber argued that a city-owned treatment plant in the park would violate that agreement. 

“The new plant was never going to be inside the boundary of the park,” Weber said. 

Former Wimberley Mayor Steve Thurber said a land swap with the current plant in Deer Creek and the proposed plant outside of the park was made. 

Because the proposed city-owned plant took less of a footprint, the swap would have added an acre of land to Blue Hole once the Deer Creek plant was decommissioned.

Arguments over the location of wastewater facilities surfaced during a League of Women Voters Forum where proponents of the Aqua Texas plant defended the switch from a city-owned facility to protect Blue Hole Park.

Wimberley Mayor Susan Jaggers said at the forum anything “within smelling distance “ of the park is in the middle of the park. Jaggers argued that the current pad site of the proposed city-owned plant could be an eyesore.

Thurber refuted Jaggers’ claim that the plant would produce an odor, citing a better quality of water and odor controls will be used in the plant.

“It’s a ridiculous notion and a scare tactic,” Thurber said. “It’s not in the middle of the park and that’s a fact.” 

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