Weslaco Wastewater Collection System Under Investigation

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WESLACO – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is investigating the city of Weslaco’s wastewater collection system.

The investigation will determine whether its operations are in compliance with TCEQ standards.

It happened on Feb. 10 when about 250,000 gallons of sanitary sewer water was discharged from a manhole into a ditch on the along 5 Mile in Weslaco. People who live nearby weren’t notified by the city of Weslaco.

The city’s public works department director, Pete Garcia, said a Houston-based wastewater contractor is responsible for the spill. The incident was a scare for those who live near the lift station.

Charlie Henderson and her family has called Weslaco home for 10 years. They lived with the stench of the sewage lift station down the road the whole time.

“I have my daughter that’s pregnant and passes through there and I’m sure that’s not a good smell, or healthy for her and the baby and my son,” she said.

Henderson said because she lives on open land, when the wind blows the stench of sewage spreads everywhere. She remembers seeing other sewage spills in her neighborhood over the years.

“It’s sad because I have a beautiful home and live in a beautiful area and yet have these kinds of problems. And then they take so long to address them,” she said.

The city’s public works director said Weslaco didn’t take long to address the February spill. He said the contractor failed to report a power outage at the lift station that lead to the discharge.

The interim project manager for the contractor said his group did report the pump failure. They made that report three days after the incident.

Garcia also said the spill didn’t pose a risk to drinking water or nearby crops.

“We’re going to monitor the fields. But I don’t think it’s going to contaminate the area. Like I said, it’s pretty much inside the drain ditch, inside the drain ditches. Pretty much it’s been contained,” he said.

Garcia added the smell is now gone because his crews excavated the waste and washed the nearby pipes. The contractor responsible for the spill said his company, along with the city of Weslaco, will work with the TCEQ to resolve the issue.

The Weslaco Public Works Department offered some tips if a resident sees a sewage spill in its city limits.

If someone sees what looks like a sewage spill or a water break, they shouldn’t touch it or try to fix the problem themselves. They should call the city of Weslaco at (956) 963-3181 and follow the prompts to report it.


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