According to a press release by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin, the City of Houston Police served an evidentiary search warrant at the Kingwood Central Wastewater Treatment Plant this morning, 2/17/2023. Inframark operates the plant.
The City had received numerous complaints about foul odors in the area and found irregularities in both plant operations and corresponding regulatory compliance. Houston Police Department’s Environmental Crimes Unit and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) investigated further.
They kept their work quiet until now, fearing the possible destruction of documents by the parties being subpoenaed.
Problems with Plant and Solutions
The foul odors related to an equipment malfunction at the plant during the week of January 23, 2023. The plant now operates normally. But addressing the ongoing odor issues will require improving the “transfer efficiency” of oxygen.
According to the City, the amount of air pushed into the wastewater system directly impacts the amount of odor generated. The City believes fixing the odors will require a dual strategy:
- Short Term – Repairs to leaks in the plant’s air-distribution and header systems
- Longer Term – Modification of the header system and the addition of another blower.
The City intends to monitor the facility closely. It says it has worked and will continue to work with the TCEQ to take all steps necessary to minimize any adverse impact to the residents of Kingwood and the environment.
No Service Disruption Expected
Kingwood residents should not experience any disruption in water or wastewater service, according to Mayor Pro Tem Martin. He emphasized that contaminated wastewater never threatened Bens Branch or Lake Houston because of this problem.
Martin thanked Houston Public Works, HPD, and the TCEQ for their swift responses.
Plant Will Eventually Be Relocated
Ultimately, the City will consolidate this plant with others in the Kingwood area on the Woodridge Village property. Harris County Flood Control and the City purchased that property from Perry Homes in 2021.
The City hopes to reduce flood risk to the sewage treatment plants by moving them to higher ground.
During Harvey, several of the plants, including this one flooded. They then contaminated nearby structures with sewage, requiring cleanup by workers in hazmat suits. Kingwood High School and Kingwood College, for instance, both required such special cleanup.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/17/2023
1998 Days since Hurricane Harvey
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