During the July 13 regular meeting of the City of Mason commission, the group voted to hire Blackwell Engineering to investigate possible problems at the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Mayor Brent Hinckley explained to the Commission that TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) inspections had not cited the city for any problems; but, the inspector had noted that it was unusual to have gone for such a long period of time (two years) with no discharge of treated water into Comanche Creek.
The City has four wastewater treatments ponds at their facility. The configuration of the ponds is such that water will flow through three of the ponds with effluent being removed at each stage, before finally being released into the creek. However, for two years, there has never been enough final treated water to warrant discharging any excess into the stream.
Blackwell Engineering will conduct evaporation studies on the ponds to determine if there is a problem with the clay liners in one or more of the holding ponds. If it is determined that the ponds might be leaking, the City will drain that pond(s), reapply the clay liner and put the pond(s) back into use.
TCEQ has not cited the City for any violations; but, the Commission felt it prudent to examine the situation before it became a problem. Such a violation would incur expensive fines from TCEQ if it was found that untreated water had been leaking back into the ground.
The vote on the motion to retain Blackwell was 4-0-1 with Mayor Hinckley abstaining.
In other action, the Commission conducted open reviews on City Secretary Pattie Grote and Municipal Judge Jill Williams. While there were no negative comments on either employee, Commissioner Anna Velez commented that she felt they had not been provided with enough quantitative material to know whether Grote and Williams were meeting the expectations of the City in doing their jobs, though she felt comfortable with what she did know of their performance.