Pflugerville city officials gathered June 13 to celebrate a groundbreaking on a new $247 million wastewater treatment facility on the eastern side of the city on Gregg Lane.

The big picture

The project at the Wilbarger Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment facility, which dates back to 2008, is a “critical step” for infrastructure expansion to service the future growth of the city, according to a news release.

Once completed, the city of Pflugerville will see an increase in its treatment capacity by 6 millions gallons per day, or MGD, from 7.25 MGD to 13.25 MGD.

“Today we celebrate not just the beginning of construction but the realization of a vision that promises a robust and resilient infrastructure backbone for the city of Pflugerville. This facility will support our city's growth, particularly in the eastern areas, and ensure that we provide top-notch wastewater treatment services for now and beyond,” Assistant City Manager Thomas Hunter said.

Hunter explained the new facility will also drive economic growth, allowing for new developments that will contribute to the “vitality” of the city.

The need for a new treatment facility was triggered during the pandemic, when the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant reached 75% of its capacity, according to a news release. However, the city had anticipated this need for nearly two decades, having purchased land for the new plant in 2009.

By the numbers

The project is being funded by “innovative financing,” Place 1 City Council member Doug Weiss said.

In anticipation of this project, City Council members authorized $165 million in low-cost public financing from the Texas Water Development Board earlier this year. The city is also in the final stages of negotiation for an additional low-interest loan for $118.6 million through a federal credit program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Weiss said.

Utilities Director Brandon Pritchett said these types of lending sources can offer a municipality a lower interest rate than what's found on the open market, which leads to savings for rate payers over the life of the project.

The city expects to save more than $2 million over the life of the loan with the Texas Water Development Board.

“This project is the largest investment in a capital improvement project in the history of the city,” Mayor Victor Gonzales said. “[This project] meets the city’s strategic goals of constructing and maintaining a robust and resilient infrastructure that is forward-looking.”

Wastewater was listed as one of the highest priorities for Pflugerville residents in a recent city survey. The Wilbarger Creek regional treatment facility is one of three major utility projects underway, which combined are expected to cost over $1 billion over the next five years.

One more thing

Though the facility was officially approved by City Council in 2020, the project encountered a few challenges, stretching out the design phase for nearly four years, Pritchett said.

There have also been some shortages in construction materials and equipment, such as electrical switchgear. However, the city prepurchased some of the essential items to help mitigate any supply chain delays, he said.