Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, along with the city, is in the design phase of the south wastewater treatment plant.

Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison said WCID-1’s engineers have begun designing the facility and the city also contracted its own team of engineers to assist the city and the district in identifying any issues that may exist at the site.

The ongoing problem the city faces regarding its sewers is grease clogging the system.

Morrison said that’s what the two teams of engineers are looking at, but the project needs to “continue to move forward.”

Morrison said executing the project would likely not increase rates for the city’s water customers.

“Initial estimates were in the range of $10 (million) to $13 million,” he said. “Talking to the district about that, they would be able to issue that debt.”

The project needs to continue moving forward “because it’s not getting any better out there,” Morrison added.

The city was fined $900,000 in 2008 for damage caused to the south sewage treatment plant by grease.

Soon after, the city instituted its Fats, Oils and Grease ordinance in an effort to keep grease out of the city’s sewers. The ordinance requires restaurants to maintain grease traps to ensure grease discharge is kept within set limits.

Jerry Atkinson, general manager of WCID-1, said the district will wait on the engineers to provide a report before getting direction from the council to proceed.

Atkinson said the engineers are expected to be finished by the end of the year, and the time line to finish the plant once the council gives the go-ahead is about 24 to 30 months.

“We just need to solve this problem, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Mayor Dan Corbin said.

Water treatment plant

The city also has been working “diligently,” Morrison said, to solve issues regarding the water treatment plant and treated-water capacity.

“Time has been on our side a little bit,” he said. “We were looking at a $50-plus million project (five years ago.) Today, that project is looking to be less than $30 million, but that capacity issue is still there today.”

As the city continues to experience an annual influx in its population, the pressure on the existing system will continue to increase, Morrison said.

Earlier this year, city staff predicted that before the year was out, Killeen would breach the 85 percent treatment capacity threshold set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which requires the city to develop a plan to acquire more treated water.

Morrison said that in looking at several local water providers, the numbers are comparable, but WCID-1’s numbers are “favorable” in regard to debt issuance. The district would allow water rates to stay the same.

Debt service is a “big issue” and if the city moves in another direction for its water needs, it would have to issue the debt of the facility, which could in-turn cause a rate hike, he said.

The timeline for completion of the water treatment plant is anywhere from 24 to 44 months.

“I think it is very favorable on the district’s side,” Morrison said. “It appears there is real opportunity for cost saving with our infrastructure as we move forward. I’m liking what I see as far as the numbers go.”

Morrison said that as far as the city being prepared, he thinks it is “in a great position.”

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