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Round Rock to spend thousands to fix leaky wastewater pipes

For six weeks, the city's main wastewater treatment facility has taken in more water because of cracked pipes.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Six weeks ago, the City of Round Rock identified leaks leading to more water than normal at the city's main wastewater treatment facility.

After noticing the higher water levels at the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant along Highway 79, the city set out to find the source. As it turns out, rather than one major break, city workers found many smaller cracks and breaks.

"We all thought that we would find this one big spot where there was a big break in the pipe and that's where it was coming from. We have not found that, but we found some other significant areas that we were going to repair. That's going to take some pressure off the wastewater plant and reduce the flows," Round Rock Utilities Director Michael Thane said.

In front of the city council Thursday, Thane added new leaks had been found as recently as this week.

RELATED: Round Rock wastewater plant seeing 'significant increase' in wastewater levels

To combat the multiple leaks across the system, the City has already put $60,000 toward one contractor to fix the cracks. According to Thane, his team has budgeted no more than another $250,000 to hire a second contractor as well as negotiating a budget with a third contractor that will start repairs within the next seven days.

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"These are long-term repairs that we should not have to go back to," Thane said. "We will continue to inspect other areas of our system."

According to Thane, they've already inspected about 32 miles of pipes. 

The problem with the extra inflow, Thane added, stems from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality standards and permits. When the city first identified the leaks, the inflow was above the permitted levels for the regional wastewater treatment plant. Over the past few weeks, the city brought back the Brushy Creek West Wastewater Treatment Plant, downstream from the regional facility. According to Thane, the West facility can handle about three million gallons per day. The regional facility can currently handle about 21 million gallons per day.

Currently, the regional facility along Highway 79 is under construction for expansion. The nearly $108 million investment started work last year. Thane expects the expansion to finish next summer. Once it finishes, the regional wastewater facility will be able to handle approximately 30 million gallons a day.

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