Pumping cash Effluent disposal hits Wimberley businesses in pocketbooks

The patience of some downtown Wimberley business owners is beginning to wear thin as the city’s battle for a wastewater system is hitting them in the pocketbook.

Without a sewer system to collect and treat wastewater, the majority of downtown restaurant and business owners are footing the bill to pump and haul it away.

There are two downtown businesses without septic systems that must comply with an ordinance that dictates they use portable toilets and haul off the waste. Even businesses that have septic systems are making use of the portable toilets to take the strain off their septic systems. (Photo by Exsar Arguello)

Wimberley Cafe owner Jay Bachman is on track to spend $50,000 this year to pump and haul from his business’ septic tank. When he revamped the business last October, it began to thrive. However, dealing with wastewater woes has been a catch-22 for Bachman.

“The last thing I would want is a leak or some kind of environmental impact because of my septic (system), so we all bite the bullet and do the right thing,” Bachman said. “Trust me, I’d much rather spend that $50,000 on other things.”

For the majority of Wimberley business owners, pumping and hauling effluent is necessary, but not required. Wimberley ordinance dictates businesses that do not have a septic system must pump and haul effluent away at their own cost. While businesses with septic systems don’t have to comply to the city’s ordinance, many of them practice pump and haul regularly due to the limited capacity of storage tanks.

Only two businesses in Wimberley must comply with the ordinance, which was updated June 6. The ordinance would be “null and void” once the city engages its wastewater system, said City Manager Shawn Cox.

However, Bachman and others wait to see how Wimberley plans to address wastewater service in the downtown sector. Currently, city leaders have squabbled over the merits of a city-owned versus Aqua Texas-owned plant.

“It’s a unique problem and I never thought I’d have to deal with anything like this,” Bachman said. “I know getting the sewer takes time, it seems every council has to start over with this issue.”

Bachman and many of his fellow business owners wait in limbo for the system to come online, a costly predicament.

“Being on the council at this time is an unforgiving experience, especially with this sewer,” Bachman said. “It has ruined relationships, marriages and businesses. It’s a brutal job.”

Bachman said the city should connect to Aqua Texas if only on a temporary basis to aid the downtown. If the city-owned plant is still an option in the future, disconnecting from Aqua could be a solution and vice versa.

“It seems we can’t make a right decision on the wastewater project,” Bachman said. “But we need a solution, soon.”

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