City, residents argue their case about new wastewater plant

Brian Cuaron

July 21, 2011 at 2:21 a.m.

Henry Perez promised a fight. The city made sure he had one.

Both sides presented their cases to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at a public hearing regarding the city's permit for a wastewater treatment plant on the south side of the city.

The city has proposed a new wastewater treatment plant on Hand Road, between Ben Jordan and Odem streets. The city had to start planning for it after the regional treatment plant reached a 75 percent capacity for three months in 2005.

When that plant reaches 90 percent capacity, the new plant must be under construction.

"If you look at this side of town, you have the blacks and Hispanics and the poor people," said Maria Garcia, an area resident.

"It's evident to me, you really want to protect the other side of town."

Emilia Garcia lives near the plant. She is concerned about the plant's effect on water wells.

A city consultant said the proposal provides the protection the city was required to give.

"We want all the protection we need," Garcia responded.

However, after a question-and-answer session, most of those speaking against the city's requirements spent their time dissecting the city's permit application. Opponents of the plant said that the application lacked information or was incomplete.

After listing their complaints, the plant's opponents asked either for the commission's executive director to reconsider the preliminary decision, or for a hearing on the matter.

Those speaking out against the plant were seated on one side, while city officials and others who spoke in support were on the other side.

About 50 people were in the audience as the hearing drew to a close.

Officials like Randy Vivian, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and Adrian Cannady with the Victoria Economic Development Corp. voiced their support.

Vivian said the proposed area was the most cost effective, while Cannady pointed out that the city had to be diligent regarding utilities since it was on cusp of explosive growth.

Mayor Will Armstrong gave his support. He said that he was elected at-large, and pointed out that he nominated three Hispanics onto the citizens redistricting committee.

Vivian and Armstrong made sure to thank commission members for coming to Victoria.

Finally, Henry Perez got up to speak. He, too, thanked the commission for its trip.

He added that he and others were ready to fight against the proposed plant.

"They don't live where we live," said Perez, waving his hand toward city officials.

"And they consider money more important than our lives."

Perez then listed his complaints against the city's application, and asked for either the commission's reconsideration or a contested hearing.



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