City working toward $10 million sewer fix

SAN BENITO — One nearly down — six to go.

The city is closer to completing a $1.3 million project that is part of a multimillion-dollar effort aimed at complying with a state mandate stemming for a series of sewage spills about eight years ago.

Today, city commissioners are expected to consider approving a $493,805 payment to G&T Paving Co. for improvements to a sewer lift station and main utility lines off Oscar Williams Road near the city’s water tower.

So far, the city has spent about $1.2 million on the project.

In 2011, the city sold about $7 million worth of certificates of obligation to borrow money to help launch the project to comply with the state mandate.

With that money, the city upgraded lift stations, improved thousands of feet of sewer lines, repaired or replaced hundreds of manholes, turned its old sewer plant into a wetlands area and made many other improvements.

Now, the city must upgrade six more lift stations at a cost of an additional $10 million to comply with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s requirement to improve its sewer system by 2023 to avoid penalties stemming from the spills in 2009 and 2010.

City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said the city is considering borrowing $10 million to fund that project.

“We have aging infrastructure,” De La Rosa said yesterday. “The environment is just eating away at the metal. It’s sandy (soil). It shifts. The pipes are under a lot of stress.”

De La Rosa said the city expects to complete the work within three years.

How we got here

In October 2012, the city entered into an agreement with the TCEQ to participate in its Sanitary Sewer Overflow Initiative program.

As part of the agreement, the TCEQ has given the city until March 2023 to comply with numerous requirements aimed at upgrading its sewer system made up of40 lift stations, 465,000 feet of sewer lines and 1,300 manholes.

The agreement has allowed the city to avoid penalties stemming from nine sewage discharges totaling 49,000 gallons from November 2009 to January 2010.

City sewer system

40 lift stations

465,000 feet of sewer lines

1,300 manholes

Oscar Williams Road sewer lift station project

$1.2 million worth of improvements completed

Total cost — $1.3 million