An update on the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater System and East Plant Expansion was presented by Utilities and Environmental Services Director Michael Thane at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Thursday, July 28. Thane reported that, at this time, conditions have improved due to the City’s efforts to mitigate additional flow to the East Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. View the video below to learn more.
About the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater System
The Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater System, which consists of two wastewater treatment plants and approximately 45 miles of regional collection lines, handles wastewater treatment for the Cities of Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander and Austin. The City of Round Rock began overseeing all operations and maintenance of the regional group’s wastewater plants and regional collection lines on Oct. 1, 2018. Austin, Round Rock and Cedar Park share ownership of the regional system; Leander purchases excess collection system capacity and leases treatment capacity. The City of Round Rock also oversees over 450 miles of local collection lines.
The main facility, which is referred to as the East Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, is located at 3939 E. Palm Valley Blvd., and the West Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was recently brought back online, is located in Downtown Round Rock. These plants are permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which is the environmental agency for the state.
Hydraulic overload at the East Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant
The east regional wastewater plant has experienced a significant increase in the amount of flow it is receiving. The City of Round Rock announced in early March that the increase put the plant above its permitted discharge levels for volume of wastewater. This event, which is referred to as a “hydraulic overload,” also caused the plant’s effluent, which is released into Brushy Creek, to contain levels of total suspended solids (TSS) and E. coli that were above the permitted levels set by TCEQ.
What has the City of Round Rock done to address the issue?
The City of Round Rock has been working to improve the region’s wastewater collection system and treatment plants to produce more quality effluent, and to improve the condition of Brushy Creek as a result. So far, the following notable actions have been taken:
- Inspected over 42 miles of regional interceptors and local collection lines (March-May 2022)
- The other member cities have also been conducting similar inspections in their local lines, and making repairs to defects as needed.
- Hired four contractors to repair 15 significant defects in wastewater lines that allowed approximately 3 million gallons per day (MGD) of inflow and infiltration (I&I) to enter the collection system since April 2022
- Brought the West Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant online to treat between 1.5-2 MGD of wastewater (April-May 2022)
- Along with its partner cities, continuing construction of an expansion at the East Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant that will increase the treatment plant’s capacity to 30 MGD. The plant expansion will be completed in summer 2023, and new infrastructure will be brought online as it is finished to provide more plant capacity.
- 5 MGD of additional capacity was brought online in early June 2022.
- Met with representatives with TCEQ and other owner cities to discuss action taken so far and future plans on Friday, May 27, 2022 and Tuesday, June 28, 2022.
- The City is currently working to incorporate additional flow meters in the region’s wastewater collection system.
- City staff is working to integrate tertiary filters as part of the East Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant’s ongoing expansion (see more below).
- The City contracted a third party to conduct water quality monitoring along Brushy Creek on six days within a three-week period during the month of June. A letter with the results of that monitoring was sent to the City on July 19, 2022.
On Thursday, Aug. 11, Round Rock City Council authorized K. Friese & Associates, Inc. to complete a master plan for the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater System, including all owner cities. The process will collect current data throughout the system, perform a hydraulic model for the regional system, perform a capacity analysis of the current system and develop a long-range capital improvement plan for the treatment and collection systems based on flow and population projections, including estimated probable costs and the timing for the projects.
City of Round Rock officials continue to maintain communication with the TCEQ regarding the actions being taken to address these issues.
City staff is currently working with engineering firm Plummer and Associates along with the partner cities to incorporate additional tertiary filters as part of the East Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant’s ongoing expansion. Tertiary or advanced filtration provides a final treatment step before discharge to the creek. A contract for a Preliminary Engineering Report is expected to be brought to Round Rock City Council at the Thursday, Sept. 8 Council meeting. The cost for the engineering services is expected to be approximately $3 million.
Below is the estimated schedule for implementing tertiary filters:
- Preliminary Engineering Report — 4 months
- Design — 6 months
- Bidding — 2 months
- Construction/Installation — 18 months
Isolated event related to expansion construction at plant
Plant is now operating within permitted discharge levels on a daily basis
Higher flows lead to non-compliance with plant’s TCEQ permit
Page last updated 1:43 p.m. Sept. 6, 2022