Tag Archive for: sewage

TCEQ Fines Quadvest for 48,000 Gallon Sewage Spill in Colony Ridge

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has fined Quadvest $5,625 for a 48,000-gallon sewage spill in Colony Ridge, a large and growing development in Liberty County near the San Jacinto East Fork and Plum Grove. Quadvest supplies water and sewer services for the development.

The violation occurred in Camino Real, a Colony Ridge subdivision with almost 3500 lots. It happened at a lift station approximately 1,000 feet north-northeast of the intersection of Paul Campbell Loop Road and Plum Drive.

Discharge with Bluish Color Kills Fish

The complainant alleged that the discharge had a bluish color and killed fish. The TCEQ complaint says people were exposed to unsafe levels of pollutants, however, no deaths were reported in relation to the incident except for fish.

Photo of discharge in Maple Branch Creek

TCEQ says Quadvest “failed to prevent the unauthorized discharge of wastewater into or adjacent to any water in the state. Specifically, on July 22, 2019, an electrical failure at Camino Real Lift Station-H located at 342 Road 5002 caused the pumps to fail, resulting in approximately 48,000 gallons of wastewater being discharged into Maple Branch Creek, killing approximately 30 fish.”

Cleanup and Fine Cost Quadvest More Than $105,000

In July, 2019, Quadvest cleaned up the mess. TCEQ estimated the cost at more than $100,000. Then in June 2020, Quadvest CEO Simon Sequeira agreed to pay an additional penalty of $5,625.

Previous Related Violations

During the year before the unauthorized discharge, the TCEQ issued four other notices of violations to Quadvest for:

  • Sewage overflowing from a manhole at an estimated rate of 10-25 gallons per minute
  • Failure to maintain an operational alarm system for emergency conditions
  • Twice failing to secure its lift station from intruders (August and November 2018)

None of the violations was self-reported. Click here for the full TCEQ report.

Part of Larger Problem

Since this incident, other sewage problems have occurred in Colony Ridge. Stormwater can wash this fecal contamination into adjoining streams and bayous which empty into the East Fork and Lake Houston, the source of drinking water for 2 million people.

More Colony Ridge fecal contamination bubbling up from underground and flowing toward Tarkenton Bayou. Photo taken in June 2020.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/4/2020

1132 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 381 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

48,000 Gallons of Fecal Contamination Found in Liberty County’s Colony Ridge Ditches, Streams; Problems Persist

Last year, the TCEQ found sewage coming from a lift station and sewers in Liberty County’s Colony Ridge development, the world’s largest trailer park. TCEQ estimates Quadvest, the water and sewer supplier in Colony Ridge, released as much as 48,000 gallons of sewage into Maple Branch Creek, a tributary of the East Fork, at a minimum, causing a fish kill (Page 51).

More recent independent laboratory testing has verified fecal contamination in at least two drainage ditches in Colony Ridge. Moreover, residents claim they have found fecal contamination in other Colony Ridge ditches and streams, too. It’s not clear whether those additional spills have been tested.

During heavy rains, fecal contamination can quickly wash downstream and eventually wind up in Lake Houston.

A major concern of residents is the frequency of sewage leaks.

Results of TCEQ Investigation

Maple Branch Creek carried black water into the East Fork.
In addition to the stench, neighbors noticed a fish kill. These two photos correspond to a TCEQ investigation in July 2019.

TCEQ cited Quadvest L.P., the sewage and water provider for Colony Ridge, for “unauthorized discharge of wastewater which resulted in a documented serious impact to the environment.”

A month after TCEQ documented this discharge, 33 inches of rain fell on nearby Plum Grove during TS Imelda.

More Recent Tests by Eastex Environmental Labs

Eastex Environmental Labs in Cold Springs collected and analyzed at least two sets of samples this year. The first was for Liberty County. The second was for Maria Acevedo, a concerned resident.

Both show significant fecal contamination.

First Eastex Report shows Fecal Contamination

Here are results of the first test and pictures of the sewage.

The first site on a ditch next to County Road 5023 showed 3090 and 3130 units of fecal coliform, with none detected in the control sample. Maria Acevedo photographed this problem on June 4, 2020.

Photo on June 4, 2020 by Maria Acevedo on CR 5023 where Eastex took samples.
Sludge oozing down same ditch.

Second Eastex Report Shows VERY STRONG Fecal Contamination

Samples collected and analyzed by Eastex Environmental Labs, eliminating chain of custody issues.

In the second lab report obtained by ReduceFlooding.com, Eastex Labs found 5120 units of fecal contamination per 100 milliliters in Frances Ditch on 6/19/2020. A second sample taken from the same location found 4870. A control sample detected none.

The lab told Acevedo that they found “very strong fecal contamination.”

Maria acevedo

Residents who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, contacted me about this site a week before Eastex sampled it.

Location of Second Sample Photographed on 6/12/2020

I photographed that ditch on Friday, 6/12/2020. It’s on the southeast corner of Colony Ridge. While there, I photographed cloudy water bubbling up out of the ground and running down a ditch toward Tarkington Bayou (see photos below).

Foul water and trail of greenish-brown sludge (left) bubbling up through ground…
…then flowed into ditch toward Tarkington Bayou at bottom of hill.
Close up of water/sludge in ditch.
Silt fence in ditch was propped up, ensuring foul water could ooze under it.
Farther down the ditch, contaminated water was pooling, and turning green and black.
In places, it had dried due to extreme heat. Temp was in 90’s.

Photos Taken Two Days Later Show Attempted Coverup

I came back two days later on 6/14 to explore the same area some more. The foul water still bubbled up, but someone with a bulldozer attempted to cover up the evidence in the ditch.

Sludge and contaminated water bubbled up from same hole on 6/14/2020.
However, the evidence in the ditch near the road had been freshly covered up by a bulldozer.

The Leaks Go On

If the incidents above were isolated, one might dismiss them. But they seem to be part of a larger, recurring pattern that neither Colony Ridge, Quadvest, nor Liberty County have stopped.

A resident says this sanitary sewer was leaking for more than two months into a ditch in a residential neighborhood and stunk like sewage. Photo by Maria Acevedo on CR5006 on March 18, 2020.

The largely Hispanic residents complain among themselves. But few reportedly file reports for fear of raising their profiles with authorities and perhaps answering difficult questions in court. Meanwhile, the sewage leaks go on. Both Colony Ridge residents and those downstream pay the price.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/23/2020

1029 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 278 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.