WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — A decades-old problem of sewer water leaking into Cypress Creek may soon be fixed with a $5 million plan that has businesses and residents applauding.
In peaceful, picturesque Wimberley, the septic system is as old as, well, as old as the town itself. Really old. And it has been leaking stinky toxins into the beloved Cypress Creek, the lifeline of the town’s beauty and tourism. The pollution then continues downstream into the Blanco River and points further south.
A plan to retrench and re-pipe the central downtown area is now in place. The new pipes would collect the sewage and funnel it to a new treatment plant. The plan only awaits approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and many believe it is long overdue.
“Oh, it’s overdue alright,” said Mayor Steve Thurber. “We’ve been talking about this for over 30 years and it’s time. We need to clean up our creek and provide services to downtown.”
The city would pay a third of the tab. Businesses and water customers would cover the rest. That would come out to a yearly debt service for 20 years of $100,000 and $200,000 respectively. Despite the added costs, businesses, residents and citizen watchdogs are overwhelmingly supportive.
“Even though it is going to cost merchants and business owners in the downtown area, they’ve been clamoring for this for years and years and finally we have a consensus to go forward,” said Jim McMeans with the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development.
The project is considered a win-win all around. The sewer water that is cleaned up at the treatment plant would not be potable but it would be used for business needs downtown and to irrigate one of Wimberley’s prized jewels, Blue Hole Park. That irrigation use has another benefit. As the area grows it will ease the water demands on the already overburdened Trinity Aquifer.
The TCEQ is expected to give tentative approval in September and a final OK next March. The city hopes to have the new sewer system up and running by mid 2016, with a cleaner Cypress Creek to soon follow.