Officials are working through the design and permit process on a series of improvements coming to the city of West University Place's wastewater treatment plant. Project engineers provided an update to members of the West University Place City Council at an Aug. 28 meeting.

The big picture

The plant—located within Houston city limits at 2801 N. Braeswood Blvd., Houston—is situated south of the city of West University Place along Braes Bayou. The system carries wastewater from the city down a gravity main along Brompton Street to the plant. From there, it is treated and outfalls to Brays Bayou.

City officials are looking to improve the plant for five main reasons:
  • addressing the aging condition of plant, which was commissioned and installed in 1982
  • improving flood resiliency after floodwaters came within a few inches of the plant's motor control center during Hurricane Harvey
  • safety improvements
  • operation and maintenance cost savings
  • making it easier to maintain compliance with state regulatory requirements, including by moving from coarse bubble diffusers to fine bubble diffusers
"Your staff has done an admirable job of keeping this equipment running at high efficiency, but some of it is just at the end of [its life], or maybe even past the end of its life," said Mike Shelton, an engineer with Kimley-Horn, the firm brought on by the city for the design process, at the Aug. 28 meeting.

The backstory

A wastewater treatment plant master plan was completed in November 2020, which provided an overall evaluation of the plant and suggested several projects. In February 2022, the Council approved a $1.2 million contract with Kimley-Horn for design services.

The details

The overall project has been broken up into subprojects, Shelton said. Two more urgent subprojects have already been completed, including an infiltration inflow study and updating weirs.

Other elements of the plan include:
  • treatment process optimization
  • elevating the administration building
  • new motor control center
  • improving the disinfection process by removing the existing gas chlorine system and replacing it with a liquid chlorine system
The latest

The project reached the 90% design milestone in December. Shelton said designers are ready to move forward with the second round of permitting with the city of Houston, including building and civil permits. Since it is located on Houston land, the project is subject to city of Houston requirements.

What else

The improvements are also expected to lead to better quality of life for those who live near the plant, Shelton said.
  • A higher quality of water would be discharged to the bayou
  • The use of fine bubble diffusers typically comes with improved odor control.
  • The use of a liquid chlorine system instead of a gas chlorine system is considered safer.
What's next

Kimley-Horn officials said the construction bidding process could begin around February or March. The next time the project will be brought back to the West University Place City Council could be in summer 2024, when Council members could be asked to approve a bid. Construction could wrap up in December 2025.