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$7.5M upgrade to relieve Dilley’s overburdened lines
The city of Dilley is set to undertake a multimillion-dollar construction project funded through a 2021 Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) grant program that will upgrade the wastewater system.
Councilors were presented with three options to resolve ongoing utility woes during a presentation by Manuel Gonzalez from Premier Engineering on Tuesday, July 19.
The first included upgrading the current sewer plant and the main line that runs along Leona Street (Hwy 85). This option also included decommissioning the existing plant at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Dolph Briscoe Unit.
Gonzalez said option two would entail the installation of a new facility at the Briscoe Unit and that an existing plant at the prison would be decommissioned.
“This option would take the flow from the west side of town, the Briscoe Unit and Core Civic (family residential holding facility, Sendero Ranch), and will relieve the main line,” the engineer said. “The sewer main line is under a lot of pressure.”
The engineer explained that option two would not include any upgrades to the city’s system but increase the capacity of the sewer line because the project would remove the flow from the west side of town.
“We would not need to upgrade the main line because removing the flow from the west side would relieve the main line and create capacity,” Gonzalez said.
The third option, which councilors approved unanimously, decommissions the Laguna Plant and projects construction of a new facility near the Briscoe Unit.
According to the engineer, the newly constructed plant would treat the flow only from the jail facility. Core Civic, located northwest of the Briscoe Unit, would still have its wastewater flow to the city’s main line.
“This option includes possibly upgrading the mainline,” Gonzalez said. “There are areas under pressure that need to be looked at now and not down the line so that we do not have backups.”
Councilor Rudy Alvarez said he believed the third option would be a better financial choice for the city as the cost of the project could be absorbed by the prison.
“Option three would not require us to get a grant if we borrow the $7.5 million because we could increase the rate we charge the prison,” the councilor said.
The anticipated cost of the wastewater system upgrade reaches at least $7.5 million, according to City Hall, and may be covered all or in large part by outside fund sourcing.
Gonzalez reiterated to councilors that the TWDB financing is a loan-grant combination with a 29-percent forgiveness. The engineer said he believes it is imperative that the council choose an option in order to move forward with the construction project.
“We need to continue to develop more detailed plans and detailed specifications,” the engineer said. “We can get a better feel on construction cost. Then we can negotiate with the entity.”
Councilors quizzed the engineer on a project start date. Gonzalez anticipated a year to 18 months before work can begin, noting the lengthy process included required testing by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and approval by the water development board.
“Our push is to have TDCJ pay the seventy percent of the project then the thirty percent can be forgiven,” Gonzalez said. “The city is under TCEQ enforcement and we need to comply with them. Option three would put the city in compliance.”
Alvarez said he agreed with the engineer because the other two options would impose a rate increase on the citizens of Dilley.
“We can add what we charge them,” the councilor said. “In effect, they would be paying for it. The other ones put us on the hook for paying for it.”
According to the engineer, the prison’s wastewater system, which was built in 1992, has already exceeded its life expectancy.
“Because it is an enterprise fund we can set the user fee,” newly hired City Administrator Henry Arredondo said.