ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Since the mid-1980s, raw sewage has been dumping into the Angelina River due to a failed septic system.
With combined efforts from the Angelina Neches River Authority, Angelina Fresh Water District One, citizens, and as local and state officials, a new sewage project was made possible.
"We are talking about providing first time sewage to 105 retail customers, as well as servicing Redland Estates, who has had a defunct sewer system for a number of years," said Kelly Holcomb, the general manager for ANRA. "The Redland Estates sewer plant discharging raw sewage has been a catalyst for the size, and scope of this project."
It's been a problem for the area dating back to the 1980s, but concern was expressed by some citizens not wanting to pay for the new system. Richard Jones, Angelina Fresh Water District One's president, said a grant should be the answer to this problem.
"The grant we received is that 70 percent is forgiven, and customers pay back 30 percent. However, with the growth that's expected, it's going to give us more revenue for the project," Jones said.
The project is the largest the district and ANRA has seen to date. They are hoping to improve not only the quality of life for residents, but also grow business infrastructure.
State Representative Trent Ashby attended the groundbreaking ceremony this morning, and said he is excited for what's to come for the project.
"There is no question that today's announcement was a milestone for the residents of Redland, Cedar Grove, and all those blessed to live in the northern Angelina County," Ashby said. "This is truly an example of putting infrastructure in the ground and allowing it to grow."
Judge Wes Suiter said he believes this is the best thing to happen to residents in the area.
"People take for granted when you go to the bathroom or kitchen, turn the faucet on, and clean water comes out. Or you flush your toilet and water goes away," Suiter said. "People don't have that in this part of Angelina County. The opportunity with the funding available is not one that comes very often."
Capitalizing on the grant they received, the project is already underway at District One's office where one of the main pipes is being installed.
"You are going to see a lot activity in a very short time frame on some relatively narrow county roads," Holcomb said. "Which is an inconvenience for some customers, but something they are excited about."
Construction will begin slowing traffic on the intersection of FM 2251. Contractors are asking the public to be cautious around the area, and understanding of the task at hand.
"We have been fighting with the sewer problems since the mid-80s when 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of raw sewage began dumping into the Angelina River. The devastation is tremendous," Suiter said. "With beginning this project, we could not have picked a better way to start 2017."
The septic system will be completed by the beginning of 2018.