Plant to turn wastewater into drinking water considered in Brownwood

BROWNWOOD, Texas - City leaders are continuing to look at constructing a water reuse plant to turn wastewater into drinking water and increase Brownwood's available water supply.

Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes said constructing the water reuse plant is the most-cost effective of options that have been looked at. However, Haynes said he is concerned about cost factors associated with the project.

"I'm concerned about the cost to construct the plant," Haynes said. "I'm also concerned about the cost of daily treatment. Because the plant is new, those costs are unknown and usually they go over what we anticipate."

If the project moves forward, Haynes said there will be an increase in water rates, which means the average residential customer will pay about $2.88 per month. That money, along with loans and bonds, will go toward funding the project.

Haynes also said the loan approval expires May 27, so the council needs to take action before then. The next step is for council members to consider issuing bonds and then have a vote within the next couple of months.

Dennis Spinks, with the Brown County Water Improvement District, said he isn't completely on board with the city's plan.

His biggest concern, he said, is the possibility of water contamination.

"There is a question as to if a mechanical failure were to occur, what is going to happen?" Spinks said. "I know there are safeguards with that processing plant that they're going to put in, but there's always the chance that the safeguards might fail. And if they do fail, then you have a contaminated system."

Spinks said direct reuse, which is what the city is aiming at, means no buffer zone between the wastewater that is treated and the distribution system. He said he preferred the city conducted more tests.

Despite all of that, Haynes said there's a need and there are benefits in proceeding with the plan.

"The biggest positive impact would be another million and a half gallons per day of available water and to save our lake and to make sure we have adequate water supply," Haynes said.

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