For the first time in the city of Bruceville-Eddy’s 43 years, the city will have its own wastewater treatment and collection system, thanks to a federal grant and loan.
City leaders believe the addition will help secure the future of the city 18 miles southwest of Waco. The project also will help the town’s economy rebound after it took a sharp downturn after construction began five years ago on the portion of Interstate 35 that crosses through the town and blocked off access to parts of Bruceville-Eddy, city leaders said Monday.
The city received a $10.8 million grant and loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build the first city-owned wastewater solution system. As part of that funding, the city will redo about 80 percent of Bruceville-Eddy’s streets, as many of the sewer lines will be placed beneath them, City Engineer Johnny Tabor said.
For a city to not have its own wastewater collection and treatment site is rare, Tabor said. Most municipalities during incorporation in the 1930s and 1940s built their facilities using federal money, he said. The most recent project in the area to have its first facility might be Lorena, which built one in the early 1980s, he said.
Actual groundbreaking on the work could be a ways off, but engineers and city officials will work to get the final design approved by the USDA and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, he said. The city must obtain a TCEQ discharge permit for the plant, he said.
“That’s a pretty involved process,” Tabor said.
Mayor Connally Bass said he was excited to learn the city received the funding. Bass said he insisted any grant for the project include funding to cover installation of connections for the system to each current resident’s home.
Bruceville-Eddy residents use on-site sewage facilities, including septic tanks, most of which discharge toward the back of homes, Tabor said. As sewer lines are extended beneath city streets, they will snake their way across a homeowners’ yard, alongside the house, and then connect, Tabor said.
Councilman Hal Wilcox said 43 percent of the $10.8 million is a grant, which means the city won’t have to pay that portion back. The rest of the funding was received as a 40-year, 2 percent interest loan.
Construction began along I-35 near the small southern McLennan County town about five years ago.
“We lost basically most of our businesses we had here,” Wilcox said. “We lost all of our gas stations. … We’re not just a food desert, we’re a gas desert because we don’t have any of it here. We don’t have a grocery store. It’s 14 miles round trip to go to Lorena to buy gas. So hopefully with Interstate 35 being done, with the wastewater system being put in, we’ll see some of that stuff come in, we’ll see maybe a grocery store and hopefully a lot more business right here on I-35.”
Wilcox said he’s lived in Bruceville-Eddy most of his life, and his father was involved in the incorporation of the city. Businesses have turned away from locating in Bruceville-Eddy because there is no wastewater system, he said.
“We want to see the community grow. That’s the only way to grow is to work on the wastewater system,” he said. “Businesses would come here and, in fact, had a wastewater system been here, the Buc-ee’s in Temple would have been here. I mean that place is busy 24/7.”
City leaders knew there would be an impact to business as access to and from Bruceville-Eddy would become that much more difficult, City Administrator Koni Billings said. The city council began putting money aside in anticipation of reduced sales tax, she said.
“We went from where we were running generally $20,000 to $25,000 a month in sales tax, just very profitable,” she said. “Now we’re down to just $7,000 a month and that is just so hard on a small community.”
In applying for the grant, city leaders had to demonstrate the town’s median income, and they didn’t agree with the 2010 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, Billings said.
“We fought so hard to make people understand that what the 2010 Census said for our median income was not true, which was like $47,000,” Billings said. “No. Not here. We have a lot of retired people, a lot of people on fixed income in this area. I knew that wasn’t the case. We did three different surveys in order to have those numbers arrive at what they did, which was $10,000 less than the 2010 Census, and those were more true numbers.”
With the addition of a new city service, Bruceville-Eddy leaders realized the current city hall couldn’t house more employees. Therefore, the city partnered with the First National Bank of Moody for a City Center project adjacent to the current city hall, just yards from the Bruceville-Eddy Independent School District campus.
The building will house the First National Bank Bruceville-Eddy , Councilman Jason Dean said. The location will be the first physical bank in the area in 75 years, since long before the cities of Bruceville and Eddy merged to become one, he said.
The state opened a bank in 1907 in Bruceville, though it closed in 1927. A private bank opened in Eddy in 1901, and received a national charter in 1915 and began operating as the First National Bank of Eddy. However, that bank later closed in 1942.
The city already owned the property where the bank will be located and is working through a ground lease with the bank to build the structure, Wilcox said.
The bank will provide the bulk of the capital for the new building since the city owns the piece of prime real estate, Dean said. Organizers hope the structure is built and open for business within a year. Office space for city employees, the municipal court, and the city council chambers will all receive an extensive upgrade through the move, Dean said.
The police department, which currently operates out of a city building on the west side of town, has plans to purchase the current city hall to relocate themselves next to the City Center, Dean said. The move would quadruple the police department’s space, he said.