Updated 12/14/2012 03:14 PM
Wimberley due for new wastewater system
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Wimberley's town square and rivers bring thousands of visitors to the community each year, but the city is concerned that what is happening underground could endanger the economic viability of the area.
The problem is how the area handles its waste.
"Many of those septic systems are old,” City Administrator Don Ferguson said. “We believe many of those septic systems may be failing. Many of those systems are not capable of being upgraded to meet today's standards."
City officials say Cypress Creek has already begun showing signs of potential problems.
"We're continuing to see elevated bacterial levels in the creek which indicates that we have a seepage problem from some of those septic systems,” Ferguson said. “If the problem continues to get worse, we feel that it could eventually lead to having to shut down businesses and that certainly is not what we want to do."
City leaders are considering several solutions to the wastewater problem and seeking input from residents.
"I think growth is not the issue,” Ferguson said.”The issue is survival as far as our local economy goes."
To get the city's residents off septic tanks, Wimberley would need a wastewater treatment plant, but then it would also need somewhere for that treated wastewater to go.
One of the options under consideration is to use treated wastewater to irrigate these soccer fields and other areas of Blue Hole Regional Park. The more than-100 acre park already uses a small wastewater treatment facility, which the city hopes to expand.
"From the beginning, our intent has been to try to reuse the effluent that would be produced by that wastewater plant in the future to irrigate the park," Ferguson said.
But the plant's wastewater would have to meet higher standards.
“This community is very concerned about the environment so we're not going to do anything that is not of high quality and that does not have the ultimate goal of protecting the environment," Ferguson said.
How a potential wastewater system would be funded is also being discussed. Cost estimates are as high as $7 million.