The city of Seabrook will soon have a fully operational wastewater treatment plant after a three-year effort to move its wastewater treatment capabilities from an older location prone to flooding and hurricane damage.

The backstory

On March 14, Seabrook officials cut the ribbon on opening the Pine Gully Wastewater Treatment Plant, the city’s largest-ever infrastructure project, located near the city’s public works department off Red Bluff Road.

Constructing on the new treatment plant began in 2021 following a yearslong conversation about the flooding risks associated with the old plant, originally constructed in 1961 and located in the storm surge-vulnerable Old Seabrook District, Seabrook Director of Public Works Kevin Padgett said.

The former treatment plant suffered significant damage during Hurricane Ike in 2008, and while the facility was able to be repaired, it became clear the city's wastewater treatment capabilities needed to move to a safer location, Padgett said.

The original location was less than 5 feet above sea level and within a 10th of a mile of Galveston Bay. The new location is 15 feet above sea level and outside the flood plain, Padgett said.

While both plants were equipped to treat water throughout the entire city, the new treatment plant has a natural gas-powered on-site generator. This generator allows the city to operate the facility even during power outages, eliminating the need to bring in a mobile generator, as was the case with the old plant, Padgett said.

By the numbers

The project cost $37 million and was primarily funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Senate Bill 7 grants dedicated to flood planning and infrastructure during Texas' 86th legislative session, according to a city news release. The city of Seabrook shouldered $1.9 million of the project’s cost.

In their own words

Local and state officials, including Texas Rep. Dennis Paul, R-Houston, attended the ribbon-cutting. During the event, Mayor Thom Kolupski acknowledged the efforts of both Paul and U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Woodville, to secure federal and state funding for the project.

“Residents in the city will benefit greatly from this sizable federal investment in our community to mitigate against many of the threats that the aged infrastructure was not designed to,” Kolupski said. “We have worked hard to obtain all the support and approvals for both phases of this project, and it is a great accomplishment for this city for generations.”

Seabrook resident John Barnett said he owned properties near the old wastewater treatment plant, which had experienced sewer discharge during previous storm events. He said the new facility was a welcome and long-awaited development.

What’s next?

The Pine Gully Wastewater Treatment plant will be fully operational by this spring.