Sewer Plant Problems Pose Threats to All Residents - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/27/04 - Angelina County

Sewer Plant Problems Pose Threats to All Residents

by Alex Carias

Raw sewage from a neighborhood in Northern Angelina County has been leaking into a nearby stream for years. And many residents are worried that it could pose dangers to those who live downstream.

"Over time a facility like this to its own accord will eventually degrade to the point it no longer treats sewage at all. It will overflow in the creek as raw sewer as it is now," explained Kelley Holcombe of the Angelina and Neches River Authority.

Which is why this broken down sewage plant in the Redland estates subdivision is a concern to all residents in Angelina County. The sewage goes into the stream, which flows directly into the Angelina River, and eventually the Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

"There are some unknowns out there with regards to contamination. Certainly it is a potential health hazard for everyone downstream, especially those who take surface water from the Angelina River or Sam Rayburn for that matter," added Holcombe.

Experts say at this time, no city's water supply stands to be affected from the leaking sewage. But over time, the sewage could leak into the water table.

Not only does this abandoned waste water treatment plant pose an environmental concern, it also poses a physical danger. There are holes big enough to swallow small children. And until those responsible for repairing the plant step forward, those threats will continue.

The biggest questions many people are asking, 'who is responsible for repairing the sewage treatment plant?'...and why is it taking so long to do something about it?

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the plant was abandoned by the original permit holder in the late 80's or early 90's. The case has been turned over to the Attorney General's Office, but they've been unsuccessful in resolving it. Therein lies the trouble of finding anyone to repair the facility.

"With no one to enforce upon, there in no answer. With no one to enforce upon, who do you seek to resolve, spend the money and resolve this problem?" added Holcombe.

A new sewage treatment facility could cost up to half a million dollars. But there is some good news, residents in the neighborhood have found some help through the Pineywoods Resource Conservation and Development Corporation in Nacogdoches. With their assistance, residents have applied for grants that could cover up to 75%of the rebuilding costs.

"I feel like there's been more progress in the last 5 months with our association with Pineywoods than has been done in the 2-3 years I've been involved in it. We have plans in place, there's been engineering studies, they've figured out the best and cheapest rate for the neighborhood to go," explained Redland Etates Resident Charles Mlls.

If the neighborhood is approved for the grants, mills says a new wastewater treatment plant could be built by next year.

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