Residents concerned about waste water flowing near their homes

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Residents in several neighborhoods of northwest Harris County are curious if not concerned about a plan that could increase, by several times, the amount of treated waste water that flows near their homes.

According to a plan filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, up to 990,000 gallons of treated waste water would flow through a spillway bordering the Westlake and Westlake Forest neighborhoods.

The discharged water would most likely not be safe for drinking or bathing.

"A lot of the neighbors here are concerned about the potential for smell. I'm concerned about the volume of water on this little spillway," resident Annette Baldwin said.

The Westchase subdivision has a history of flooding.

Safety is another concern. The culvert that will be tasked with carrying the extra water usually runs at a trickle when the weather is agreeable, presenting little danger to neighborhood kids.

It is unclear how high the water will rise with the added discharge.

The area near South Greenhouse Road and Saums Road is undergoing a transformation with new development. The extra capacity need appears inevitable, but residents want the West Park Municipal Utility District to find another alternative.

The TCEQ is charged with reviewing and approving such projects, and will most likely hold a public discussion regarding this "environmental variance," but the date of that information session has yet to be announced.

On Monday, Kara Richardson, attorney for West Park M.U.D., sent the following statement:

"The District has been operating its waste water treatment facility for over 30 years without adversely impacting the surrounding communities. The expansion of the treatment plant is required to provide basic sanitary sewer services to future residents and businesses within the District, and increase in treated flow is projected to occur gradually over many, many years without any adverse impact to neighboring communities."

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