East Texas city working to address sewage problems

Mayor and Interim City Manager Leroy Hughes
Mayor and Interim City Manager Leroy Hughes

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - San Augustine Mayor Leroy Hughes says his city is scraping by.

"Without funds like other cities have you just have to do as whenever is possible and we just have to keep struggling," said Hughes.

Last year the town was slapped with a $56,000 fine by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Outdated sewer systems are causing major problems.

"The infrastructure for water and sewer is very old and the sewer has a lot of clay pipes and the clay pipes are busted. Our runoff water is going into the sewer lines which it is not supposed to and if we get a real good rain say over two inches then there's a good possibility that we could bust permit again," said Hughes who says he is working to make necessary but gradual changes.

Talks in Austin have already reduced the fine to $32,000 -- that's if the city takes on a special environmental project.

"There are places in the city that do not have sewers or residences that don't have access to a sewer and this is in a low income area so we're going to extend the sewer into that area."

Keeping all of the money local, city workers are already laying new sewer lines. It should only take a few months.

"We are working hard to eliminate these problems and we are still working on them constantly," said Hughes. "We hope to do over the years is to replace the old lines with new lines."

That project could last years, especially without funding to continue construction.

"Whatever money we can get through grants and what not is very appreciative," he said.

It is not clear where the money will come from, but Hughes says he will find a way to fix city sewer problems.

Replacing all sewer lines in San Augustine could cost as much as 5 million dollars. The mayor says the city doesn't have that kind of money. Until more funding is available, small sections are being completed.

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