To the Editor:
Since when does a city government take out a full page ad on the taxpayer dime to politically advertise and defend their position on sewage treatment during an election season?
Last week’s propaganda effort gives the mirage of a deliberative process, but excludes many details, including: zero public input into the agreements as promised, the two dozen secret meetings with Sanctuary while the public was kicked out into the cold, the short timeframes for consideration of red herring options, the actual cost of a regional solution, overinflated values of the land donation and TCEQ permit transfer, the unexplained disappearance of the Sanctuary’s $1 million dollar gift, how the aldermen’s non-negotiable tax break/economic development/effluent benefit timeframes suddenly went from 10/10/10 to 15/15/45, why the EDA sewer grant was reduced from $1.5 to $1.0 million, any explanation why it took seven weeks from the time the annexation and economic development agreements were signed to have the land donation and TCEQ permit transfer in hand, and why there was delay after delay after delay throughout this Sanctuary sewer fiasco. The sewer bond was approved in November 2014 and other than studies, plans and hundreds of thousands already spent (including over $600/day in bond interest since August 2015), there’s not been a single shovel of dirt turned in more than 17 months.
This full page ad is nothing more than a political advertisement funded by taxpayers to cover for the infinite missteps of your incumbent elected and salaried public officials during this election season.
To the Editor:
In regards to the anonymous full page blurb titled “Village of Salado status update: Sewer and Sanctuary”.
As for “Three Options” that concluded it would take all ($11,500,000) of the bond money to:
1. “run lines to the Lampasas River and connect with the Temple-Belton waste water facility” Or is it…
2. “Build the initial lines to the Temple/Belton plant”
Because that’s two very different distances and costs.
Meanwhile the City of Belton will be constructing a 1,000,000 Gallon Per Day (GPD) wastewater lift station near the Lampasas River at Toll Bridge Road. It’s scheduled for completion in mid- 2017. This date is prior to the scheduled completion date of the Village’s proposed new 200,000 GPD Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in Sanctuary.
The current north most main line of the proposed Village sewer is 4 miles from this future lift station. A Low Pressure Sewer (LPS) 4 inch line along this route is estimated to cost no more than $750,000 to install. A 4 inch LPS line has a wastewater capacity of 700,000 GPD. LPS lines can be tapped into at any point, thereby extending the Village’s sewer main line an additional 0.6 miles further north.
The remainder of this route north along IH-35 adjoins the Belton City Limits. Since this LPS line could also be utilized by the City of Belton, it’s likely they would pay a portion of its installation cost.
Currently the City of Belton has metered wastewater customers that pay a rates as low as $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. The proposed 200,000 GPD Village WWTP will cost a minimum of $200,000 annually to operate, not including bond principal or interest. The lowest possible operating cost of the proposed WWTP at maximum capacity is $3.10 per 1,000 gallons.
But if all properties adjoining the proposed main line runs were FORCED by the Village government to connect, the initial daily flow will be 20,000 GPD. At that volume, it will cost $27 per 1,000 gallons in operating cost. As for likely income from fees, there’ll be one-time connection fees totaling $28,000 and $50,000 in annual wastewater fees, leaving an initial annual operating deficit of $122,000.
As for properties not adjoining a main line, by utilizing LPS, properties as far away as 1.5 miles are in range of the main lines. Anonymous is silent as to who pays for these connections to the main lines.
As for “The Rest of the Story”, there’s nothing positive if a new WWTP in Sanctuary will be hemorrhaging public money for decades. If Billy Hanks Jr could have established a Municipal Utility District (MUD), he would have done it long ago. The financial advantages of a MUD even outweigh the unprecedented giveaway package to him the Village government approved.
And it’s all moot now after the passage of the “Development and Design Standards for the Sanctuary Planned Community” Ordinance. There isn’t a legitimate Developer or Commercial Interest that will build there now. Sanctuary has been condemned to be another Shepard’s Glen ghost town.
In the same Ordinance, the Village Alderman abdicated their duty to enforce building code(s) through construction inspection and ambiguously attempted to diluting the building code by requiring only “health & safety” to be complied with. I’m certain that the International Building Code Congress views the entire code as addressing “health & safety”, and should be enforced in its entirety.
As for “Currently”, it seems hardly anyone got that far in the blurb and its microscopic schedule. It’s notable for what Anonymous omitted.
The premature issuance of $8,200,000 in wastewater bond money that’s accruing $670 a day ($244,550 annually) in interest. By the microscopic schedule, it’ll be until August of 2017 before the WWTP will be done and wastewater fees for the new sewer would apply for the operation of the sewer system.
The proposed Village Sewer lines are to be a combination of gravity mains and LPS laterals (lines from properties to the main line). All the LPS lateral lines will be on the opposite the side of the street where the gravity main is located.
Construction of the gravity main will be as if James Construction has come to Main Street. The trench for the gravity main will be between 10 to 20 feet deep, requiring the removal and hauling off of any street or driveway in its path and generating spoil (excavated material) piles the heights of small houses.
And we must be living on “James Construction time” if the Consulting Engineer Kasberg, Patrick & Associates, LP (KPA) schedules 5 months for the Main Street gravity line construction. Village residents have first-hand experience with public work construction schedules. It’ll take much longer than that.
And to send the wastewater to a new WWTP in Sanctuary 80 feet above Main Street, two lift stations and their forced mains (that can’t have lateral lines) are necessary too.
A gravity sewer will have infiltration (ground water entering the main), causing wastewater spills into Salado Creek. Fortunately for the Village government, only spills exceeding 100,000 gallons require public notification.
There is an alternative and it’s a 100% Low Pressure Sewer system.
LPS sewers cost a fraction of gravity sewers, are installed instead of constructed in far less time and are fully sealed, eliminating infiltration. There are no lift stations and their forced mains. The trench for a LPS line is 12 inches wide by 3-1/2 feet deep and is unaffected by grade changes. At streets and driveways, LPS lines are bored underneath, leaving improvements undisturbed.
The perceived drawback to LPS is that a pump in a wet well is necessary. For customers with an existing septic tank, a Septic Tank Effluent Pump (STEP) can be installed for $1,000. For new construction, a grinder pump in a wet well is necessary for $5,000. It’s not necessary that each property have an individual wet well and grinder pump. Multiple properties could share a single wet well and grinder pump if the topography allowed it. Currently, there are over 100 wet well pumps already operating in Salado.
NO COSTS WERE INCLUDED IN THIS ANONYMOUS BLURB. The only information publically available had KPA proposing a construction cost of $2,841,000 for just the Main St. and West Village Road gravity sewer and a fee of $533,400, which is 18.75% of construction cost. No costs have been made public for the new 200,000 GPD WWTP. There are government entities that publish statutory professional rate scales. The highest published rate found for the same professional services is 8.7%. KPA’s fee would be a World’s Record for this kind of work (unless another Engineer wants to come forward and claim a higher charged fee).
Paying KPA nearly $1 for every $5 spent constructing the sewer is obscene.
John Newman, RA
To the Editor:
The buzz these days is much about the accidents and delays on I-35 involving those 18 wheelers that carry our consumer products. However, let me remind the readers that the rubber tired vehicles pay huge road taxes as compared to the family sedan and yes, they also bring our much needed groceries, medical supplies and a thousand other products to our doors. They regularly travel I-35 past Salado to and from the East and North and Mexico and beyond so most are “Interstate” travelers. And, our present circumstances are a direct result of voters’ previously rejecting one of the several proposed reliever highways east of here. We can’t change the past but we can intelligently respond to the present circumstances as follows:
• Temporarily designate I-35 between Austin and Dallas as a thruway for Interstate traffic
• Sell Intrastate permits for those who can otherwise access alternate routes to I-35
• Assign more state troopers within this designated segment and;
• Raise the penalties for wreckless and distracted driving
• Rigidly enforce the truck permit provisions (overweight, over height, over length, etc.)
• Rigidly enforce the speed limits
• Reserve the inside lane for passing and emergency vehicles for quicker clearances
And lastly, it’s time we qualify drivers to operate in the Interstate environment with emphasis on defensive driving around larger vehicles.
Some years ago I was driving one of those big trucks before sunrise one morning on a freeway that lacked acceleration ramps. A young (and obviously distracted) driver in a small, underpowered car attempted to enter the highway by outrunning me. I never saw him until I saw a headlight beaming on the left guard rail. He tried to cut in front of my truck which clipped his rear quarter fender and flipped his car sideways in front of my truck which pushed him sideways several hundred feet.
Just because you can see the truck doesn’t mean the trucker can see you and you can avoid him much easier than he can avoid you, especially at highway speeds. Give them space and don’t linger next to a large vehicle. Obey the law and drive defensively so you can tell all about it another day.