Engineering work on the city’s antiquated wastewater treatment plant gained approval Monday at a Paris City Council meeting, the first step in a project expected to take six or seven years to complete.
City leaders approved a $370,000 engineering agreement with Garver USA, based in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to evaluate the needs of the 60-year-old plant, provide load projections 20 years out and assist with partial funding through the Texas Water Development Board.
Even with state funding, the project is expected to cost water and sewer customers an estimated $30 million to bring the facility up to date. Initial projections call for an additional $6 to $8 a month on customer sewer bills — more for businesses and industries — with no increase in the city’s tax rate.
Monday’s vote marked the second time a professional service agreement with Garver has been before city leaders. With a split vote in January 2016, the council voted against a similar contract, opting to delay work on the sewer treatment plant until a $45 million water and sewer line project was completed. That project should be completed this year. At an April 22 meeting, the current council gave unanimous support and instructed city staff to proceed with obtaining Garver.
At the time, Paris Mayor Steve Clifford called council action “proactive” and added “the city has not been proactive in many cases.” Councilman Clayton Pilgrim talked about the cost being necessary to compete in economic development. City Manager John Godwin warned any further delay could be a costly gamble if the current plant breaks down and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality steps in.
Initial plans call for a 7 million to 9 million gallon a day facility. Current capacity is a little more than 4 million, according to Utilities Director Doug Harris, who said heavy rainfall caused the plant to reach its maximum on frequent occasions.
At Monday’s meeting, Harris thanked council members for supporting the project while congratulating his staff for keeping the antiquated plant operational.