Hutto council votes to build two new wastewater treatment plants

Hutto City Council voted to proceed with designing and constructing two wastewater treatment plants at its meeting Feb. 7.

The council considered three options to expand its current wastewater plant, which is expected to be at capacity around 2015, according to Hutto Assistant City Manager Micah Grau. Council members discussed expanding the current plant on CR 199, building a plant in 2014 and another in 2026 that would each process 2 million gallons of wastewater daily, or a phased process in which three plants would be built—one immediately, one around 2017 and one around 2020. The two-plant plan passed 5-1, with Councilman Paul Prince opposing. Councilman Michael Smith was absent.

"My worry is that what'll happen in five years is what's happened over the past five years, which is that we've had growth, but it's been more of a plateau than a curve," Prince said. "I just think that building a [2 million-gallon-per-day] plant maybe is too much ... I think it behooves us to go smaller, let's build a 1 million-gallon-per-day plant now and see where we are in a couple years. If we have the growth, we can push that up; if we don't, we can put that off a little bit."

While the three-phase process would save the council money initially with building only a 1 million-gallon-per-day plant in 2015, the two-plant project is expected to cost approximately $3.6 million less by the time construction on either project would be completed, according to estimates by Austin engineering firm K Friese.

An expansion to the current plant was estimated at $8.4 million. Council voted not to pursue the option because any additional expansion after the project would not be possible.

"Part of it is, that plant was never intended or built in such a way for expansion," Councilwoman Ronnie Quintanilla-Perez said. "Our concern is that it will cause more cost and more issues to do that, and it's not really feasible, and there's not a lot of existing land around it."

K Friese estimated the two-plant project will cost approximately $21.3 million. Grau said the council will hold discussions in March on paying for the plants, including issuing bonds. Repayment on the bond would come from wastewater impact fees and additional fees of about $2 per month to utility customer bills.

By Korri Kezar
Korri Kezar graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 with a degree in journalism. She worked for Community Impact Newspaper's Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto edition for two years before moving to Dallas. Five years later, she returned to the company to launch Community Impact Newspaper's Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth edition, where she covers local government, development, transportation and a variety of other topics. She has also worked at the San Antonio Express-News, Austin-American Statesman and Dallas Business Journal.