The city of Georgetown presented options for a wastewater pipeline to run through Berry Springs Park and Preservation to the Williamson County Commissioners Court on Dec. 11.
The presentation laid out four options for the project with the first option being the only one to affect the county and is the most sought-after by the city.
The project would add an underground, nonpressurized pipeline that would provide service to current and future developments along SH 195 and Ronald Reagan Boulevard, according to the presentation.
Jim Briggs, of the city of Georgetown; Kemble White, of Cambrian Environmental; and Stephen Van Kampen-Lewis, of SWCA, gave the presentation and answered questions from the court. Terracon and Walker Partners are also involved in the project.
In the first option the city seeks to build a wastewater line that would run through the park—which the county owns—from Berry Creek to the Pecan Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant. This project would incur the least amount of risk, cost and environmental damage, Briggs said.
“There are [several]tools in the toolkit to be able to deal with [wastewater treatment],” Briggs said. “We need to look to pick the best or the most effective [solution].”
The first option would allow for a shallower dig in order to not interfere with the Edwards Aquifer, which feeds the springs. Shallower digging requires less equipment, money and manpower, Briggs said.
The second and third options presented more risk with the pipe being built adjacent to the park and along SH 130, respectively.
The second option would build the pipe along the southwest edge of the park beginning at Berry Creek and ending at the wastewater treatment plant. This option would require a deeper dig, a tunnel length almost double the first option and the removal of an additional 10 acres of trees.
The third option would require two lift stations, which Briggs said were not always foolproof and at risk of mechanical failure and discharge of raw sewage into the creek.
“Lift stations … are an approved method to move wastewater. Are they the best solution? No,” Brigg said.
Briggs added that lift stations are not the most effective solution in an urban environment in their ability to treat wastewater with minimal environmental impact.
Both options 2 and 3 would also require inspection access of 75 feet below the ground, which adds a risk of life for those tasked with the job.
If the court did not approve option 1 Briggs said he would recommend to the city of Georgetown to go with option 3.
Option 4 is not feasible as it requires an acquisition of land that is not available, he added.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook said, either way, the line would be built because of increased growth.
“It is development that is driving the need for this line,” she said.
Briggs agreed, adding only if the county was to close the door on all growth and development in the area would the current facilities and infrastructure be sufficient.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey—who represents the area where the park is located—said if the court was to approve the plan, she would like to see the park benefit.
She emphasized she would like to see restoration projects go hand-in-hand with the possible pipeline.
“If we are going through the park, how can we benefit the park?” Covey asked.
Restoration on the park would be done simultaneously with construction, according to the city’s website.
Prior to the presentation during the public speaking portion of the meeting several community members presented their concerns. Some stated they feared the pipe would leak into the spring system, while others worried about how the project might disturb the environment and ecosystems.
Georgetown resident MaryEllen Kersch said the park needed to be protected and preserved. Increased infrastructure and growth would turn Georgetown into the likes of Round Rock, which she said has grown to be an extension of Austin.
“It’s all about the character of Georgetown,” she said. “I want to see that preserved.”
Round Rock resident Kathy McCormick said she was concerned about the risk involved in the pipeline and how it could negatively affect the spring water and groundwater flow, as well as other impacts from the project.
“What data does the county have that ensures that the largest springs in Williamson County will not be negatively impacted either in water quantity or quality by the proposed pipeline route,” she said.
If approved the project will take less than six months to complete with construction beginning in early 2020, according to the city’s website.
The project will be funded by wastewater ratepayers and development impact fees, the website said, adding that no tax dollars nor county dollars will be spent on the pipeline.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court will hold a public hearing on the pipeline 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18.
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In other business
- Precinct 4 Commissioner Larry Madsen was honored during his penultimate meeting. Madsen has severed for two years taking the place of Ron Morrison, who died in 2016. He will retire at the end of the year.
- Students of Williamson County 4H were recognized for their accomplishments during the Williamson County Youth Fair. The students competed in categories including needlework, woodwork, cakes and public speaking and took home nearly $7,000 in prizes.
- The court approved replacing Judge Dan Gattis on the Capital Area Council of Governments General Assembly with Precinct 4 Commissioner-elect Russ Boles effective following their meeting Dec. 12.