Growth in population and commerce is generally considered a good thing for most small cities. But unchecked growth without the corresponding advances in infrastructure can sometimes become an onerous burden on them, as well.
This is a situation that has been creeping up on the City of Granbury over the past several years -- exploding population and business numbers versus an aging and overtaxed infrastructure. Although City leaders and staff have taken great strides in successfully addressing most of these infrastructure issues, one problem has begun outpacing all others, and it’s a critical issue … not enough wastewater treatment capacity to keep up with growth.
As far back as the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Granbury leaders and staff had been working to address this issue, but because of the increased speed of development this issue has become so profound, so quickly for Granbury, the City has been forced to consider an Ordinance of Moratorium for an initial 120-days for platting and development for parts of the City and a large portion of its extra-territorial jurisdictions (ETJ).
The areas affected by the moratorium run from just east of the City’s current wastewater treatment plant, down Highway 377 to at the far eastern portion of the City (see attached map).
The moratorium stems from a wastewater system master plan analysis the City commissioned for its wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and collection systems in 2018; that was performed by Enprotec Hibbs and Todd (eHT), a civil, environmental and geotechnical engineering firm with offices in Abilene, Lubbock and Granbury.
The analysis showed just how overloaded the current wastewater treatment system was and how badly the City needed additional wastewater treatment capacity. The master plan analysis revealed that two of the wastewater lift stations (Lift Stations 7 & 23) in the eastern portion of the wastewater collection system were significantly undersized to handle demand from the growth the system has experienced.
A portion of the analysis stated that due to constraints on the wastewater collection system downstream of Lift Station #7, increasing the capacity of the pumps needed to meet the demand for new development will only exacerbate the existing issues in those areas of the collection system.
The master plan analysis further specified that, “the construction of the new East WWTP will eliminate the need to replace the existing wastewater collection system from the Existing WWTP through to Lift Station #23, which provides significant cost savings to the City compared to other alternatives.”
It also proclaimed that, “in addition, the Project will provide 1 million gallons per day (MGD) of additional treatment capacity to the City’s wastewater system with the ability to be expanded in the future to support further up to 2 MGD, while the existing WWTP (2 MGD capacity) is being overhauled due to equipment reaching the end of its useful life.”
The master plan analysis also stated that any new connections or developments within this area, or adjacent to it, will make the existing issues worse (and) the City (is) anticipating that significant development is expected in this area soon.
These “significant development” areas fall directly in the proposed moratorium zones.
Knowing this, the City reached out to the Texas Water Development Board to secure funds to pay for wastewater system improvements, which, including engineering services, was $34 million.
In September 2019, the City submitted a permit request for a new WWTP to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, to accommodate future development and economic growth. The permit was given a draft approval and is currently awaiting final approval.
Until the improvements are completed, the City will continue its struggle to balance capacity versus demand.
If you’re interested in learning more about the issues facing Granbury and the proposed ordinance for a moratorium, there will be two public hearings and one additional reading of the proposed ordinance held on:
- Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. before the Planning and Zoning Commission, and
- Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. during the special called meeting of the Granbury City Council where there will be a second public hearing (and the first reading of the proposed ordinance), and
- Monday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. during the City Council special called meeting where the second reading of the proposed ordinance will occur