City Hall takes on industrial wastewater oversight

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Almost seven years after a discharge at the City of Kilgore Wastewater Treatment Plant drew the ire of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, local officials this week approved a new industrial pretreatment program to continue to make things right with the state.

Basically, it’s the city taking full responsibility for that process instead of TCEQ.

With council approval of a new industrial waste ordinance, “We are the primary agency for the enforcement of pretreatment guidelines,” city engineer Clay Evers told the elected officials Tuesday. Currently, it affects seven local industrial clients in particular: “Their activities directly impact the activities of the City of Kilgore, mainly wastewater treatment.

They’re large employers in the area and contributors to the local economy.

Through the new ordinance, “We permit them, we monitor them and we charge them for water above and beyond normal domestic waste strength.”

In summer 2011, a discharge at the plant caused oily wastewater and a strong odor. A routine compliance investigation by TCEQ in February 2012 led to a citation for failure to enforce the industrial waste ordinance in effect at the time, ultimately leading to an enforcement action against the city which was resolved in an agreement with the agency in October 2012.

“The terms of the Agreed Order were to enact an industrial pretreatment program as set forth in our permit for disposal for the wastewater treatment plant,” Evers reminded council members.

That program, subject to TCEQ approval, ranges from an industrial user survey to a financial plan, managerial strategy, studying pollutants, an enforcement plan and other steps.

One element of six has been approved by the state, and the city added a fulltime pretreatment coordinator position in Fiscal Year 2013. It’s been filled consistently since December 2015.

“While TCEQ has not formally accepted our industrial waste program, it is imperative that we continue to implement the pretreatment program,” Evers emphasized. “The next step to implementation is to adopt the industrial waste ordinance that fully details the requirements of our pretreatment program,” up for council approval this week.

According to Evers, the industries most impacted by the ordinance include Halliburton, General Dynamics, Heritage Crystal Clean, Cudd Services, Skeeter Boats and Lone Star Casting.

“We have reached out to these industries, and they are being prepared for the implementation of this program,” which should take about a year. “Those folks are already fully aware of the regulations they must comply with and these don’t put any more on them. We also need the ability to monitor new ones that come in.”

The permitting process will be very rigorous, Evers told the council, and there will be fees associated with it.

“Are we putting any higher standards than TCEQ?” Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon asked.

One, Evers said: local levels of copper and zinc in the wastewater are above the norm.

“We need to find where those are coming from. It’s from an industry,” he added. “Those (levels) are very specific to the City of Kilgore.”

The four council members in attendance Tuesday (Neil Barr was absent) unanimously-approved the revised industrial waste ordinance.

“No one likes more regulations,” Evers said, “but this one, unfortunately, is necessary for us to be compliant with TCEQ’s reguirements for our wastewater treatment plant.”

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