City of Waco officials are considering a new wastewater treatment plant in the China Spring area as faster-than-expected growth threatens to overwhelm existing lines and lift stations.

The Waco City Council on Tuesday will consider spending $132,000 for a China Spring wastewater study by HDR, an engineering firm.

The council is scheduled to vote on the study, along with ordinances on shipping containers and bike and scooter rentals, at a 6 p.m. business meeting, following a 3 p.m. work session at the Waco Convention Center’s Bosque Theater.

The study will model the wastewater needs of the growing area through 2050 and propose solutions to accommodate the growth. A new “satellite” sewer plant, similar to one the city built at Bull Hide Creek near Lorena, is a possible solution, Assistant City Manager Bradley Ford said.

Currently, sewer mains carry wastewater about 10 miles from China Spring to the main Waco Metropolitan Area Regional Sewerage System plant south of town on the Brazos River. But those lines are likely to reach capacity in coming years, and replacing or expanding them would be expensive.

Already, growing demand has strained the Village Lake sewer lift station on China Spring Road, causing it to become overwhelmed during heavy rains. In a 2018 study, HDR recommended replacing the lift station and building a gravity sewer line across Waco Regional Airport.

But city officials said that might not be enough to handle China Spring’s expected growth, which includes five new subdivisions now in the works. Ford said growth in China Spring may happen more quickly than the city’s Comprehensive Plan envisioned.

City planners in 2017 projected the China Spring area, which is north and west of the airport, would have a population of 8,400 by the 2020 Census, up 62 percent from the 2010 census count of 5,200 people.

Ford said that until the study is completed, it is too early to say where a wastewater treatment plant might be located. He said the city is also monitoring growth in the Highway 84 corridor and discussing another potential wastewater treatment plant in that area, though no details have been nailed down.

J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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