Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional information from a Harris County MUD 531 representative.

A proposed wastewater treatment plant has some Cypress residents concerned about potential nuisances including odor, noise and property value decreases.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 531 held a meeting regarding the proposed project June 3.

If approved, the new Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System would be used to discharge “treated domestic wastewater at a daily average flow not to exceed 100,000 gallons per day." MUD 531, which serves the Falls at Dry Creek and Hidden Arbor in Fairfield, submitted the application to the TCEQ in April 2023.

Officials said state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, requested the June 3 meeting due to great public interest, but no local elected officials or representatives attended.

Cypress-area residents attend a June 3 meeting regarding a proposed wastewater treatment plant. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact)
Cypress-area residents attend a June 3 meeting regarding a proposed wastewater treatment plant. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact)

The background

The proposed site for the new facility will be located roughly 0.5 miles southwest of the intersection of Mueschke Road and Schiel Road in Cypress. At the meeting, Fairfield residents raised concerns regarding the close proximity of the plant, depleting property value and potential flooding.

The treated sewage from the plant will be discharged through a pipe to a detention pond, then to Schiel Road storm sewer, then to a dry-bottom pond, a ditch and finally from Little Cypress Creek to Cypress Creek, according to the permit application.

Officials said the TCEQ doesn’t have the authority to decide where to locate the plant—MUD 531 selected and proposed the location.

“I think the main thing that influenced our land plan where we laid everything out was the drainage system; the wastewater plant needs somewhere to outfall,” said Ashley Broughton, an engineer with LJA Engineering who represented the MUD at the meeting.

In a June 5 email, Broughton told Community Impact the proposed plant would serve a proposed subdivision in MUD 531's jurisdiction.

She said construction is already underway on a lift station, which "is required to convey sewage no matter where the treatment facility is located," and that once construction on the wastewater treatment plan begins, the project would take about nine months to complete.

What they're saying

There are measures in place to minimize the plant's impact on nearby residents, such as a 150-foot buffer zone around the tanks, officials said. While residents raised concerns about potential flooding in the area, TCEQ officials said they have no authority over flood management.

“Flooding is another issue that is a valid concern, but TCEQ does not have jurisdiction to regulate flooding. However, the county and local officials do regulate flooding,” TCEQ senior attorney Michael Parr said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Jay Morris opposed the construction of the new wastewater site near the neighborhood and urged the TCEQ to look at alternative locations.

“I am staunchly opposed to the construction of this facility in such close proximity to our homes. This plant will have a measurable negative impact to our home values here in our immediate adjacent neighborhood addition due to the smell, noise [and] light pollution that all these plants generate,” Morris said.

What happens next

The meeting officially closed the opportunity for residents to file formal comments about the proposed plant. The TCEQ has 60 days to respond to these comments with a written response.

Those who filed comments can use them as complaints in the event of future contested case hearings.

More information about the proposal can be found here.

Danica Lloyd contributed to this report.