LEFT: A sewage leak at the privately owned B&W Gatherings Wastewater Treatment Facility in Granite Shoals was said to have gone unattended from Friday, Nov. 25, until the evening of Sunday, Nov. 27. Nearby residents say this is a chronic issue. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey RIGHT: Sewage leaked into the grass near the Tropical Hideaway dog park. Courtesy photo by Bobby Gallagher
A Thanksgiving weekend sewage leak from a private wastewater treatment plant in Granite Shoals has residents concerned about its ability to handle even more homes in a planned subdivision.
An anonymous complaint was filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality after the incident, which would trigger a mandatory investigation. The plant was cited for 11 violations by the TCEQ in 2021.
The treatment plant is expected to serve the incoming Granite Pointe subdivision. During a Granite Shoals City Council meeting Nov. 30, neighbors expressed their concerns about the strain more homes would put on the facility, which already serves the Tropical Hideaway condominiums and several other lakefront condos.
During a presentation to the council at its Oct. 25 meeting, representatives of Granite Pointe subdivision developer Sterling Creek Holdings claimed major upgrades would be made to the plant in 2023 to accommodate the homes. No specific plans were mentioned.
On Nov. 25, residents noticed a siren sounding from the plant and increasing levels of overflowing sewage. Both continued through the evening of Nov. 27.
In an email to DailyTrib.com, an Aqua Texas spokesperson said 2,000 gallons of raw sewage were discharged from the facility during the leak, which was attributed to an electrical malfunction that they claimed was fixed within an hour of its discovery. According to the statement, the leak was investigated by the facility’s operator leading up to Sunday, but no issue was found.
The email goes on to say the leak was contained to Aqua Texas property and posed no danger to human health or safety, which is why neighbors were not told of the issue.
“The incident was reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,” reads the email. “Since the discharge was contained on the property, and there was no potential danger to human health, safety or the environment, a broader communication was not necessary.”
Granite Shoals Interim City Manager Peggy Smith told DailyTrib.com she was made aware of the leak on Monday, Nov. 28, after the city received several emails complaining of a siren and raw sewage flooding the grass and a dog park near Tropical Hideaway. She also was told about the complaint filed with the TCEQ.
“My feeling is if, as residents have described, that there is standing water and sewage around the plant, that that is a threat to our citizens,” she said.
The TCEQ regulates any actions that might have an environmental impact across the state, including wastewater treatment. Aqua Texas could face fines or have its permit to operate revoked if violations are found to be outstanding.
Tropical Hideaway resident Bobby Gallagher told DailyTrib.com he and his wife, Susan, heard a siren from the facility on Friday and saw the progression of the sewage overflowing from the water treatment plant, which flooded the nearby grass.
“(Susan) noticed an odor, which is typically there anyway,” Gallagher said. “It smelled like it was more rancid than normal.”
He recounted his firsthand experience with the leak, laying out a timeline of events. A siren began on that Friday and a stronger-than-normal odor came from the plant. Sewage started to overflow from the facility by Saturday, and the surrounding grass around the plant was soaked with sewage by Sunday.
“It’s concerning that these events occur and we are not notified as a community that there is an active leak,” he said. “Nothing is ever done to mitigate the flow from their property onto ours.”
Gallagher claimed to have spoken with Tropical Hideaway manager Damon Schiro, who told him that Aqua Texas had not responded to any inquiries regarding the leak. Schiro was not available for comment at the time of this story’s publication.
Granite Shoals Utilities Superintendent Joshua Hisey told DailyTrib.com that an Aqua Texas employee attended to the siren and leak at the plant by 6 p.m. Nov. 27, at which point, the alarm ceased.
During the Nov. 30 council meeting, some of the neighbors told councilors they were worried about the plant’s ability to handle the new Granite Pointe subdivision.
“I’m just a little concerned because we’ve been left in the dark and we are literally swimming in sewage,” resident Breeanna Malik told a full council chamber.
Resident Jeff Ward stepped up after Malik and echoed her concerns.
“The development of the Granite Pointe subdivision has been a stickler as far as the sewage plant is concerned,” he said. “Without it even being tied in, we are experiencing these problems.”
The Granite Shoals City Council plans to address their concerns during its next meeting, which is 6 p.m. Dec. 14. at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.