Outage near Lake Waco causes leak of 610K gallons of sewage


A city of Waco wastewater lift station between Waco Regional Airport and Lake Waco released around 610,000 gallons during storms Saturday and Sunday, city officials reported.

Three nearby manholes also overflowed a few thousand gallons each.

An electrical short caused by a power outage disabled the Village Lake Lift Station at 8920 Skeet Eason Road, causing it to discharge domestic sewage around 9 p.m. Saturday, according to a city notice to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The city recommends that people who use wells within half a mile of the spill site boil their water until they can have their wells tested and disinfected. Those who buy water from a municipal water supply may contact their supplier to determine if water is safe for personal use.

“The city of Waco’s water supply and water quality have not been affected by this situation,” the city’s notice to the TCEQ states.

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Because of lightning and saturated ground, it took until 1 p.m. Sunday to set up bypass pumping, city Utility Director Lisa Tyer said.

The power outage began with an Oncor transformer near the airport that experienced problems beginning at 5:38 p.m. Saturday, according Michael Baldwin, with Oncor Electric Delivery Company. Oncor crews completed their repairs by 10 p.m. Saturday.

“While our personnel were on site shortly after the outage occurred, restoration efforts were challenged by the lack of vehicle access to the restoration site,” Baldwin said.

Oncor’s team carted equipment to the restoration site in order to safely replace the damaged transformer and complete electrical repairs, he said.

The discharge of wastewater began around 9 p.m. Saturday, hours after the transformer problem began, according to a city of Waco statement.

Tyer said city crews responded to the lift station problem initially, but the ground was highly saturated next to a power pole that posed a danger of falling over. Collapse of the area was also a significant concern, Tyer said.

The city called in CPS Utilities LLC due to the complexity of the dig and time sensitivity of repairs, Tyer said.

The contractor finished area excavations, removed all the thrust block concrete, took apart the broken valve and removed the innards, Tyer said. Then they reinstalled the still functional part of the valve and reconnected so city crews could set up bypass pumping, Tyer said.

Sewage overflows totaling about 10,470 gallons occurred around the same time at three other manholes nearby along Flat Rock Road and Skeet Eason Drive, the city statement said. The National Weather Service gauge recorded 1.1 inches of rain Saturday and Sunday.

“The overflow at both the lift station and manholes, partially diluted by stormwater, flowed into Lake Waco,” the statement reads. “Given the amount of water in the lake (more than 60 billion gallons), this overflow into the lake has not affected the city of Waco’s water supply. Additional water sampling will be conducted as a precaution.”

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