New sewer system transitions Old Town Spring into the 21st century

Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle first learned about the outdated aerated septic system in Old Town Spring two years ago while eating a Reuben sandwich at Ellen's Cafe.

"There was just an extra ambience in the air that was detracting from the pleasure of my sandwich," Cagle said. "So in the process of making an inquiry of Ellen, she expressed not only the problem of the aerated septic systems that the town was still on, but how also it was detrimental to business."

Businesses in Old Town Spring suffered not only because of the smell but because they had to shut down early in the afternoon due to the capacity of the system, Cagle said. However, after two years of working to fix the problem, Old Town Spring held a ceremonial first flush Oct. 3 on the new sewer system that is servicing 12 of the businesses in Old Town Spring, including Ellen's Cafe.

"This is an exciting time, because [of] what it means [for] our community here, this treasure," he said. "We're able to keep the old and share it with the new and to have a place to come, to shop, to play, to live, to enjoy and to savor life."

The new sewer system consists of 8,000 feet of lines and a water treatment plant—installed by Quadvest, a water and wastewater utility company. The low-pressure system can process up to 60,000 gallons of water per day and can be upgraded to process up to 520,000 gallons of water per day in the future.

Although Harris County was instrumental in the development of the new sewer system, only about $100,000 of the roughly $2 million pricetag for the system came from Harris County funds, according to Harris County officials. The bulk of the money for the project came from private investment, Quadvest President Simon Sequeira said.

Sequeira said the first flush on the new system at Ellen's Cafe actually took place in December 2013, and the company continues to work on the system.

"We're bringing in a new trunk line from the new water plant we built, and it's going to tie into Old Town Spring and improve water pressure," he said.

Pam Golden, president of the Old Town Spring Improvement District, said some businesses have yet to buy into the new system, which Sequeira said costs about $12,000–$15,000 per user to join. Golden said it is up to each property owner to decide whether or not to join the sewer system, but she believes it will be a significant benefit to the community.

"It's a huge plus for our restaurants, so I think people are excited about it," Golden said. "It'll allow us to have night life, which is something we really want to see happening [with] the growth of the area and just keep[ing] people out here to shop, dine and enjoy the atmosphere."

With the nearby ExxonMobil campus nearing completion by the end of 2015, Cagle said the system's ability to expand will be key to a rapidly growing area.

"This is a time where we need to grow more than ever before, because with ExxonMobil moving in, and in our region, so many people [are] coming to our place," Cagle said. "They need to have a place where they can come, play [and] shop. We need to keep our doors open and our constituents happy."

By Matt Stephens
Matt Stephens joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2012. A Tomball native and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Matt joined as a reporter for The Woodlands team before being promoted to help launch the Spring | Klein edition in spring of 2014 and later to North Houston managing editor in late 2015. He has served as managing editor to the Phoenix and Nashville papers since August 2020.