EARLY— A project more than three years in the making goes online next week as the City of Early opens its new $6 million waste water treatment plant.
Early City Administrator Tony Aaron did not give an exact time and date when the plant will go online, but invited the public to join the city council in a special tour of the facility at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
“We should be diverting our wastewater next week if everything goes as planned with the contractors,” Aaron said. “It has been a project that has been going for quite some time. I have been here close to three and a half years and I’ve been working on it the whole time I’ve been here. I’m ready to get this project underway and in operation.”
Many communities experience an increase in water-sewer rates with the opening of a new water treatment facility, due to many states and municipalities requiring a water-sewer system to be self sustaining. Aaron said that is not the case with Early, whose residents will not see any increase in their rates. The facility will use a portion of the revenue to service the debt to a 30-year loan, and allot the remaining revenues to operating and maintaining the facility.
“As it relates to the financial end of our wastewater treatment plant, we have been paying the City of Brownwood for decades to treat our wastewater,” Aaron said. “We were able to finance this in the amount that we have been paying Brownwood and it covers the debt service we are paying ourselves. There are no rates that are going to be raised. The rates that there are will be staying the same at this point in time. As it relates to operating the facility, there should be no additional cost to the user.”
The new facility is also unique in that the treated water is not redistributed into a local body of water. Instead, it will go to water a city-owned hayfield.
“What we have is a lagoon system and it is a no-discharge permit, meaning once we treat our water we’re not discharging it back into canals or streams,” Aaron said. “We actually have to keep that water on the property so in order to get rid of the [water] we use it for irrigation services to irrigate an agricultural crop. Our permit allows us to irrigate for a non-human consumption crop.
“We’re looking to grow hay that can be fed to livestock. There are other places that have a non-discharge permit. Some make hay with it. Some irrigate other things like natural grass just to dissipate the water. The idea is to return it back into the natural recycling system of the environment.”