Rio Grande City Facing Penalty for Lift Station Issues

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RIO GRANDE CITY – Rio Grande City is working to address Texas Commission Environmental Quality 2017 violations with their municipal solid waste and water quality.

If they can't meet the deadline, Rio Grande City will have to pay a fine of $120,124 according to a press release posted Wednesday.

It was the worst time of the day for something to go wrong, said Melissa Andrade as she recalled an incident at her father's restaurant, Casa de Adobe.

"Maybe about two years ago, and it was on a Sunday rush hour, right after church and we did get a little bit inconvenienced," she says.

The restrooms went out of order.

"We needed to shut down for just a little bit."

In the restaurant's five-year existence, it’s the only time Andrade can recall they've had this problem.

When sewage backs up, it could be due to a lift stations that stopped working.

It's part of a system you only notice when it doesn't work.

It's part of the wastewater treatment system that's made up of underground pipes.

Sewage goes from a property to the wastewater treatment plant and lift stations help move it along the way.

For nearly 15 years, the stations in Rio Grande City have been lacking explains City Manager Alberto Perez.

"They are set up with one pump only," says Perez.

"So, if that pump goes out, the back-up is not there. So, that creates a problem, because then you don't have sewer being delivered to the sewer plant. So, you get stuff backing up."

In 2017, TCEQ found the city's one-pump design problematic.

They ordered the city to change it; otherwise, they would pay a fine.

The solution isn't cheap, Perez explains.

"The lift station project is $1.9 million. There are a total of seven lift stations that are going to be replaced, and we are upgrading them to the point that we're either doubling or tripling the capacity of the lift station process," says Perez.

Multiple contracts and a grant are stitched together to move the project along.

Four of the lift stations will be getting three pumps.

"You have three pumps as a default," details Perez.

"You have one primary and the others will automatically come on either when the other one needs assistance in pumping more sewers or it goes off."

Some pumps in place now, but not yet functional.

Perez says they're hoping the lift stations are finished by July.

If they meet it, Perez says the fine won't be imposed. For residents, the solution is more practical.

"The better the infrastructure in the city, the more chance it has for growing and for businesses to come in, and for customers to be happy."

Work at Casa de Adobe continues without any interruptions and they hope to keep it that way.

TCEQ also noted the lift stations needed to be secured with adequate fencing and barbed wire. It's a standard set up to keep intruders out.

To see the full report, you can visit the TCEQ website.

For more information watch the video above.



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