BRECKENRIDGE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A potential wastewater treatment plant in Breckenridge is causing a commotion within the community, with nearly 400 people fearing the Hubbard Creek Reservoir could become a “cesspool.”
It’s been several weeks since residents within a half-mile radius of the Hubbard Creek Reservoir peninsula on FM 3099 received a notice from the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEP). Resident Donna Wade said she and 16 others received letters of notice that said a potential effluent discharge treatment plant was coming to their area.
It raised concerns for her and her family, who started a petition and netted 400 signatures of opposition to the wastewater treatment plant.
Hubbard Creek Reservoir is one of the main sources for drinking water for parts of the Big Country, including Abilene, so why would a wastewater facility randomly be placed at the lake?
It’s not by happenstance the treatment plant is coming. It is coming as an added benefit to the Peninsula RV Resort, owned and operated by Breckenridge native Brook Hatchett.
Hatchett bought the peninsula in 2017, planning to make an all-inclusive RV resort featuring two sandy beaches, pickleball courts, an infinity pool and a tiki grill on top of the many RV spots to rent out.
While residents don’t have a problem with the RV resort, the sticking point continues to be the wastewater treatment facility.
“I mean, for everything that could go right, you’ve got 10 things that go wrong on a system like this,” one Hubbard Creek resident said.
Another resident and bait shop owner said: “It will ruin the lake – it will ruin the resource we have, and guess what? When it’s ruined, you can’t just order one on Amazon to replace it.”
Wade said the main fear residents have stems from the severe drought the lake has been under, only at 66% capacity, as well as the no consistent water flow in and out.
“Everything cannot be taken out of treated wastewater,” Wade said. “There are nutrients that cannot be removed, pharmaceuticals cannot be removed, and there are some heavy metals that come out of treated wastewater plant.”
However, Brook Hatchett said she wanted to ease residents’ minds about the situation and said she was not going to cut any corners with the $7 million investment in the RV resort.
That led her to file and get administratively approved for the effluent discharge permit from the TCEQ, meaning Hatchett will be required to maintain state standards for water, as well as have a fully certified and Texas licensed operator running the facility and doing daily water tests.
“The water goes through multiple amounts of systems and then comes out much cleaner than the lake water that we have,” Hatchett said.
According to former city commissioner and attorney David Wimberley, nearly half of the state of Texas has similar, TCEQ approved plants and is becoming a norm for other facilities like Hatchett’s.
Speaking to Wade and the nearly 20 others who came to support the opposition of the wastewater plant, they all could agree on one thing.
“There’s just so many beautiful places on this lake, and we just want to preserve it,” Wade said.
KTAB/KRBC also reached out to the engineers covering the project, Abilene-based Enprotec/Hibbs and Todd, Inc. on if the discharge would have any impact on Abilene’s drinking water.
In an email response, Senior Project Manager Luci Dunn said “Through the discharge permitting process, the TCEQ ensures that the treated wastewater will not be toxic to man, or to terrestrial or aquatic life. Specifically, the permitting methodology used by the TCEQ ensures that discharged wastewater does not (1) result in instream aquatic toxicity; (2) cause a violation of an applicable narrative or numerical state water quality standard; (3) result in the endangerment of a drinking water supply; or (4) result in aquatic bioaccumulation that threatens human health.”