McALLEN, RGV – On Wednesday, McAllen Public Utility Board of Trustees invited VIPs to a groundbreaking ceremony for its $65 million South Wastewater Treatment Plant project.

The aim of the South Wastewater Treatment Plant project is to upgrade the existing plant and improve energy efficiency. City leaders believe the new facilities will serve southern McAllen for the next 25 years.

The restored capacity will be 10 MGD (million gallons per day). The project cost is $56 million. The engineer is Carollo Engineers Inc. The contractor is CSA Construction, Inc. The estimated completion date is March 2018.

Bech Bruun
Bech Bruun

Bech Bruun, board member for the Texas Water Development Board, said he was delighted to participate.

“We were honored to be a part of the groundbreaking ceremony for an expansion of the City of McAllen’s South Wastewater Treatment Plant. It is a $56 million project and about $46 million of that, the city is financing through the Texas Water Development Board,” Bruun told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“Based on the amount of savings they are able to receive through an interest rate subsidy through one of our programs we anticipate the City of McAllen will be able to save roughly $11 million over a 30-year life of that loan and financing term. So, it is a tremendous benefit to McAllen and we are pleased as a board to be able to partner on a project such as this.”

Asked if $46 million is a lot of money to providing a city the size of McAllen, Bruun said: “It is not a small amount of money so when we are talking about being able to save over $11 million over the life of that loan, that type of interest savings is something the City of McAllen was paying very close attention to. I am hopeful that all the cities in the area will be paying attention to as well.”

Asked how the City of McAllen may have heard about the programs TWDB has to offer, Bruun said: “Our agency has been around since the 1950s. It has undergone some changes directed by the Legislature of late. They have asked us to be pro-active in our outreach. That is one of the reasons why we are here today, talking about projects such as this. Whether it is through the regional water planning process or through board outreach the City of McAllen was made aware of the Board and they have utilized our programs in the past. We were very happy as an agency to partner on a project of this importance.”

In addition to being part of the McAllen Public Utility event, Bruun also spoke Wednesday at the monthly board meeting of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council in Weslaco.

“I wanted to come talk to the Council of Government specifically about the Texas Water Development Board and the services we can provide for their cities in the way of developing not just new water supplies but also taking care of existing water and wastewater infrastructure. Some of the cities in the Council of Government have utilized our programs but some have not so I wanted to take advantage of getting in front of a group of this folks to talk about what we can do and how we can help,” Bruun said.

One of the new programs Bruun mentioned was SWIFT, which is an acronym for State Water Implementation Fund of Texas.

“SWIFT is a new fund which was created with the passage of Proposition 6 on the constitutional statewide ballot approved in November, 2013. Proposition 6 received over 70 percent of the statewide vote and as a result of this, $2 billion was put into this fund,” Bruun said.

“Our agency oversees the SWIFT fund. We have accepted the first round of applications for financial assistance that will be made available through this fund. But, separately, we have other programs both state and federal, financing programs that political subdivisions, cities, can take advantage of. These have low interest loans, generally better rates than cities can get on their own in the open financial markets. We wanted to make the cities here aware of this as well.”

Editor’s Note: The main picture accompanying this story was taken by Lauren Graber, chief of staff to Bech Bruun. It shows the groundbreaking for the South Wastewater Treatment Plant project in south McAllen.