ROUND ROCK, Texas — Editor's note: On the video included in this article "water treatment plant," instead of "wastewater treatment plant," was said in error.
In March, Round Rock announced multiple leaks discovered in pipes across the city leading into the city's regional wastewater plant. Over the weekend, neighbors sent emails to City, County and State officials continuing to voice their concerns over the water quality coming out of the facility flowing into Brushy Creek.
"My number one concern right now is simply the quality of life, not just for the citizens, for everything that calls this creek home," said Chris Johnson, who owns Living Waters Flyfishing. "Yes, there is a solution. How fast is Round Rock going to implement that solution? Is there going to be enough public outcry to actually make a difference? I mean, not only is this my livelihood, this is where I go play too."
Johnson met Martin Milner in the fall of 2021. Milner has shared his concerns too with City leaders on a regular basis for almost two years.
"There's been some leaks that I'm sure are creating an accentuated issue, but it's been essentially like this for a year-and-a-half, except for a short period early fall of last year," Milner said.
Both Johnson and Milner have seen the difference between upstream of the regional wastewater treatment facility and downstream. Where Johnson goes to flyfish upstream, he finds relatively clear water. Downstream near Red Bud Lane, the water is murky with "suspended solids" that come from the wastewater treatment plant.
"We're not denying that the creek does not look good. We see it, but we [are doing] everything we can, and just be patient with us," Michael Thane, the Round Rock utilities director, said.
According to the plant's permit, the City is allowed to discharge up to 2,700 pounds of solids every day. The neighbors say while the permit may allow for that, it's just not right.
"That is uncalled for," Johnson said.
"As they go forward, what's going to happen if they increase capacity and continue to up their [fluid] limit? Their [discharge] limits will increase. So they'll actually be dumping more solids after their system is complete and online than they are now. So we don't see anything in the plan that's going to help us," Milner said.
Thane confirmed the current expansion at the regional treatment facility would allow for more solids to be discharged, but the rate of discharge would stay the same at 15 milligrams per liter of water flow. Currently, the facility treats approximately 22 million gallons per day, a half million over permitted levels. As the expansion continues, the regional facility will continue treating up to 25 million gallons per day starting in July. Once the expansion finishes, the plant could handle up to 30 million gallons per day.
Thane added he's heard Johnson's and Milner's worries.
"We're also looking at adding what we call tertiary air filters, additional filters that can take the solid out before discharge to the creek," Thane said. "They're not necessarily required because we're meeting the permit, but this will actually be make the quality even cleaner."
When the new expansion comes online, Thane said the filters will be higher quality and be able to thin out other solids better than the current filters.
Thane and the City of Round Rock will be meeting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality this week to review their current permits and address the water quality concerns in Brushy Creek. The city says contamination levels went above permit levels back in March.
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