By Bob Massey
The Harker Heights City Council didn’t hold its Tuesday workshop at City Hall but instead took a field trip to the Waste Water Treatment Plant on Pecan Drive. Members of the city staff went along for the ride.
Mayor Spencer Smith had requested the walk-through to bring better understanding to the council.
“You can listen to someone describe a complex facility like this, but you just don’t get the impact until you see it,” City Manager David Mitchell said in an interview with the Herald on Wednesday.
Mark Hyde, public works director, shared data and statistics produced by the operation of the plant then led council members and staff on a tour of the facility that covers over six acres with an additional 4.74 acres for expansion.
The wastewater plant provides treatment of municipal waste since there are no industrial users within the city limits. The wastewater is treated, processed and cleaned up to meet standards then discharged into Nolan Creek.
On the other hand, the plant prevents pollution. “If we just let that raw untreated wastewater go into the creek, it would pollute Nolan Creek and basically kill the eco system,” said Hyde.
The plant is designed to meet state standards for treatment and discharging the treated water. Nolan Creek is considered a contact recreation stream that means the public can splash, wade, swim and play in it. Hyde said, “Our permit is based on the fact that our plant will be used to filter and clean the water for that purpose.”
Council members learned that the Waste Water Treatment Plant is a 1.5 million gallons per day facility and the water enters the plant into what is called headworks. They got a close look at a screener that filters out heavy debris like shoes, trees and towels. “We do actually get that kind of stuff from time to time,” Mitchell said.
“The wastewater goes through heavy and fine filtering, then gets cleaner as it makes its way through several additional steps until the last station where the water is purified with ultraviolet light and makes its way to the stream.
“The water is not drinkable at this point. In fact,the water you get from your tap comes from a different plant in another location.” Hyde said.
Harker Heights was the second city in the state to earn a permit to use UV light in its filtering process which at one time was done through the use of harmful chemicals.
City leaders also learned about how much water is coming into the plant.According to Hyde, “With the heavy rains this year, we were running about 2 MGD (million gallons a day).
“We now average about 1.8 MGD and our limit is around 3 MGD. “
In the Herald interview, Mitchell said, “This is a good time to let our citizens know that storm water doesn’t flow to the sanitary treatment plant on Pecan Street. I see comments about it on Facebook, hear people talk about it and Hollywood gets it wrong ,too.
Those storm sewer drains along the street are taking the rain to tributaries, streams and lakes.”