Bellaire will seek grants as it mulls wastewater treatment plant options

The city of Bellaire is mulling a future decommission of its wastewater treatment plant. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
The city of Bellaire is mulling a future decommission of its wastewater treatment plant. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Bellaire is mulling a future decommission of its wastewater treatment plant. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bellaire City Council unanimously approved an application seeking grant funding that may help the city decommission its wastewater treatment plant and tie into Houston’s system.

The application deadline is Oct. 28 for grant funding from the $16 billion U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development’s Block Grant Mitigation Program, designed specifically for mitigation activities for qualifying disasters in 2015, 2016, and 2017, according to an Oct. 5 agenda report to the city council.

Flooding events during the Memorial Day Floods of 2015, Tax Day Floods of 2016, and Hurricane Harvey qualify for that funding.

However, approval by the council doesn’t mean approval of the decommission, but rather an openness to explore wastewater service options, the agenda report cautioned.

“I think my position on the whole thing is probably largely not changed a whole lot,” said mayor pro tem Gus Papas, who expressed resistance to a city of Houston service changeover in a September meeting. “I do think we’d be remiss not to take advantage of some of these opportunities. With that having been said, I do think that this is not a foregone conclusion.”

The cost to decommission the city’s existing wastewater treatment plant at 4436 Edith St. would be approximately $65 million, according to interim city manager Brant Gary, and would include the cost of infrastructure needed to tie into Houston’s Almeda Sims wastewater treatment system, as well as additions and upgrades to that wastewater treatment plant to take on additional capacity over an estimated five to seven-year span. The grant would only require Bellaire to match 1 percent of the project cost.

Council Member Catherine Lewis shared Papas’ sentiments and expressed skepticism about a move over to Houston’s system, as well as concern about the time city staff would spend on the item.

Council member Michael Fife felt exploring the option is still necessary.

“However, our wastewater treatment is located in Southdale that has been inundated with flooding issues time and time and time again,” Fife said. “And I, for one, don’t want to look those people in the eye and say, ‘Well, we’re just going to say this won’t work at all. We’re not even going to explore it.’”

Council also approved a Citizen Participation Plan, which will establish ways Bellaire residents, public agencies, and other interested parties can actively participate in the creation, implementation, and assessment of planning and implementation documents related to the grants.

The plan will allow for a 14-day comment period through Oct. 28.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


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