SALADO — Salado’s board of aldermen Thursday voted to move forward with acquiring the Stagecoach Inn wastewater treatment plant being donated by its owner.

Aldermen voted 4-0, with one absentee and one abstention, to allow City Administrator Jim Reed to proceed with “due diligence” in discussing the transfer of the plant with current owner Morris Foster.

Before agreeing to the transfer, aldermen instructed Reed to resolve a few lingering questions regarding the plant’s permits, compliance record and discharge options.

On Thursday, the board reviewed a report from the Texas Commission on

Environmental Quality, which listed 12 violations against the plant in three years.

All 12 were classified as “minor” or “moderate” violations — such as not having a “suitable container with a lid for holding screenings” in 2011 — and four were resolved; the remaining eight were

all “self-reported” and violated the same TCEQ subsection, according to the report.

In a statement to the board, alderman Bryan Fritch said he could support accepting the plant contingent on the plant’s permits being transferable and the city securing five-year contractual rights to continue pumping treated effluent from the plant to a 227-acre discharge field owned by Foster.

Without the discharge field, the city could only release into Salado Creek, something the board opposes; having access to the discharge field could bridge the gap between acquiring the plant and the two or three years necessary for a voter-approved expansion, Reed said.

Alderman Hans Fields said he supported acquiring the plant so long as the state permits would transfer, but securing a five-year minimum on discharge rights was unlikely, he said.

“I can guarantee you Mr. Foster will not give you five years,” he said.

Reed said he would visit with Foster and TCEQ over the next two weeks; aldermen are scheduled to meet again Jan. 16.

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