With city employees, elected officials and community leaders looking on, silver shovels penetrated soft beige soil framed by wooden boards marking the ceremonious start to the first phase of renovations to the Moore Street Wastewater Treatment Plant in Beeville.
City officials say the plant has served Beeville for roughly a half century. But in recent years, City Manager John Benson said a lot of the equipment is reaching the end of its useful life.
Project Manager John Herrera of Inframark – the company hired to manage the plant – said workers will rebuild the main lift station, install new bar screens and upgrade the electrical components in the motor control center.
Additionally, the motor control center will be outfitted with a supervisory control and data acquisition – commonly referred to by the acronym SCADA – system. Herrera said this will allow for remote, off-site monitoring of the system. In the event of trouble, city officials will be promptly notified.
The plant’s Operations Manager Jesse Garcia said the aeration rotors and head works will also be replaced. This head works separates grit and inorganic material so it does not make it past the screens.
“This is modernizing a key infrastructure aspect for the city, in the sense that this is our wastewater treatment plant. This plant is just as important as our water treatment plant,” Benson said. “Literally and figuratively on the opposite ends of the spectrum. With the wastewater plant, we have had continual issues and costs.”
The plant’s backup generator no longer works and the motor control center – the main electrical panel – is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain due to the decreasing availability of parts. The building in which it is housed, which also contains the lift station, has been deemed structurally unsound.
“All of those things cumulatively makes this plant cost (more) to operate,” Benson said. “So all of the improvements will modernize the plant and address the problems we have while also leading to reduced operational costs.”
He also hopes that a more modern plant will reduce the number of “surprises” that come up when things break down. These repairs, often costing tens of thousands of dollars, can wreck havoc on an already tight city budget.
The Moore Street Wastewater Treatment Plant serves all of Beeville’s just under 13,000 residents and businesses. Benson said that it is operating at 65 percent capacity. The improvements, which have a target completion of two years, will not add capacity to the plant. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires cities to begin plans to expand once a plant reaches 75 percent capacity.
The $7 million for the first phase of improvements to the plant comes from a $10 million voter-approved Beeville Water Supply District bonds. The Beeville City Council at its April 13 meeting began the process that will end in the sale of $7.5 million in certificates of obligation to fund the second phase.