Comment period for wastewater plant permit ends Aug. 8

July 22, 2011 at 2:22 a.m.

Residents battling Victoria over its proposed wastewater treatment plant may be headed to a contested hearing.

The city has proposed building the Odem Street 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 from late 2004 to 2005.

When that plant reaches 90 percent capacity, the new one must be under construction. A study estimated that would occur in 2015.

Response to public comments

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality held a public hearing Thursday.

Residents called for a contested hearing. They said that the city's permit application was incomplete, and voiced safety concerns.

Some also didn't like that the plant would be built near homes.

People have until 5 p.m. Aug. 8 to comment on the matter, said Andrea Morrow, commission spokeswoman. They may comment via mail or on the commission's website.

Attorneys and engineers under the commission's executive director will respond to the comments, Morrow said. How long that takes depends on the number and complexity of comments received.

Responses will be posted online as well as mailed to those who commented and others who signed up for the commission's mailing list at the meeting. The commission would respond to the comments all at once.

Contested hearing

The commission will then determine whether to send the matter to the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings. The requirement for a contested hearing is that one of the requesters be an affected party.

Morrow said an affected party was a legal determination that usually dealt with proximity. Just one requester has to be an affected party for a hearing to occur.

Those wanting to request a contested hearing have until the end of the public comment period, Morrow said. Sixteen people have already done so.

The commission would tell the judge what subjects to cover in the hearing.

"It's similar to a civil court proceeding" said Morrow, explaining what the hearing would look like. She said a hearing would feature testimony on both sides.

After the contested hearing, the judge would issue a proposal to the commission based on the facts presented, Morrow said.

The commission would use that proposal and other information to determine whether to grant Victoria its request for a permit.



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