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Lake Nasworthy sewer improvement project

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The following are questions you may have about the proposed sewer improvement project in the Lake Nasworthy area:

Why are sewer system improvements needed around Lake Nasworthy?

The proposed project would address two needs.

One, economic development is stymied at San Angelo Regional Airport and around Nasworthy because the current wastewater system is operating at its capacity. Mathis Field is perfectly positioned for an industrial park that would boast superior access to transportation by air and by highway. That would be attractive to prospective tenants and would boost job creation. But the current infrastructure cannot accommodate that sort of development. 

Two, the current system relies upon a single, uncased pipeline that crosses the lake. Should that pipeline ever fail, sewage could not be moved, it might seep into the lake, or both. That represents a risk to the community.

How would this project address that risk?

This proposal involves installing two cased mains to move wastewater. That would provide a failsafe that would allow for uninterrupted service should one of the lines fail or require maintenance. And because they would be cased, there would be a minimized threat of sewage leaking into the environment.

Why does San Angelo need a second industrial park?

Development at the current industrial park has increased markedly in recent years. There is no intention of shuttering that park.

But it is hamstrung by having no access to air or rail service. Many industrial tenants seek that so they can easily ship materials in and ship product out. Such manufacturers pay attractive wages and contribute to the local tax base, relieving the burden on homeowners. Great-paying jobs also boost the vibrancy of the entire community’s economy.

Why can’t improvements simply be made to the existing wastewater system at Lake Nasworthy?

Unfortunately, the current system was installed piecemeal over decades without an overall plan. As a result, it relies upon a complex configuration of 26 lift stations and 106 grinders.

Allen Woelke of CDM Smith studied the system and proclaimed it “the most complicated wastewater system I have ever seen” in his 40-year career. He added that the complexity inhibits the flow of sewage, which contributes to odor issues. As Woelke said, “It’s not wine. It doesn’t age well.”

How many lift stations are there total in San Angelo?

52. Again, of those, 26 are at the lake. The City treats 8 million gallons of wastewater per day. The Nasworthy system produces 500,000 gallons of that total. That means half of the city’s lift stations are dedicated to moving 1/16th of the community’s total wastewater. That’s an inefficient system.

Would some of those lift stations be removed if this project occurs?

Yes. Six to eight stations would be removed, if the City Council approves funding that added expense. That would reduce operating and maintenance costs of the wastewater system at the lake.

How much additional capacity to the lake’s wastewater system would this project yield?

The capacity would increase from 500,000 gallons to 2.5 million gallons per day. Woelke assures that would be adequate to accommodate any development around the lake and at the airport.

Would that eliminate odor issues around the lake that migrate toward the loop?

Yes. The system is barely able to keep up with current flows of sewage. That contributes to odor issues.

What other benefits would the project yield?

The infrastructure will include a trunk main – a main artery, if you will – that eventually could serve other areas that currently must rely on septic systems. Again, this would also provide the framework to eventually eliminate six to eight lift stations.

How much will the project cost?

The estimated cost is $32 million.

How would that be funded?

The City proposes tapping into the Lake Nasworthy Fund to help partially pay for the project. That fund contains $15 million, which can be used for any purpose with voter approval.

The balance of that fund grows each time the City sells a parcel of land around the lake. There remain approximately 160 such tracts, which are estimated to generate about $16 million in sales revenue.

The City intends to issue debt for any costs related to this project that are not covered by the funds available in the Lake Nasworthy Trust Fund.

Will the funds be used for anything else?

Yes. The City Council is will use a portion of the funds voters approved in the Nov. 5 special election on several quality-of-life projects at Lake Nasworthy. Those projects include boat ramps, fishing piers, shoreline erosion control and sandy beaches. 

The item was approved in the Nov. 5, 2019 Special election.

Staff is currently working on plans to develop the project.