Wastewater Treatment and Compliance
The City of Bryan operates three (3) activated sludge plants to treat our community’s wastewater. The city is divided into three sewer basins based on the service area for each treatment plant.
Activated sludge treatment is an aerobic (oxygen dependent) process that uses millions of microorganisms to remove waste materials from the water. There are two basic stages in the treatment of wastewater: the primary stage, in which most solids are removed, and the secondary stage, which removes organic materials and nutrients.
Approximately 60 percent of all solids and organic materials are removed from the wastewater during the initial stage known as primary treatment. As wastewater enters the treatment plant, it flows through a screen to remove large floating objects, such as rags and sticks, which might clog pipes or damage equipment. After the wastewater has been screened, heavier solids are allowed to settle to the bottom of a clarifier and are removed by submerged pumps. The heavier removed solids are combined to form sludge. Lighter solids, such as grease and scum, float to the surface and are skimmed off and placed in a container called a scum box.
With the help of microorganisms, secondary treatment removes about 95% of the organic matter from wastewater. This process begins with water flowing into an aeration basin where induced air keeps the microorganisms and food source in contact. Solids are even further removed from the water through a settling process similar to that used in primary treatment.
During the final stage, known as disinfection or final treatment, chlorine is added to the water to kill any remaining pathogenic bacteria and to reduce odor. Excess chlorine is then removed by adding sulfur dioxide, making the water safe for fish and receiving water bodies. Alternatively, UV (ultraviolet) light can be used in place of chlorine gas and sulfur dioxide gas to achieve disinfection. The clean, safe and treated water is then discharged into the environment. The quality of the water released from the treatment plants is actually cleaner than the existing water in the area creeks.
Sludge and scum removed during the treatment process is further reduced through the process of anaerobic digestion. Mimicking the stomach’s digestion process, naturally occurring microorganisms work to break down sludge and scum into biosolids. Excess water is removed from the biosolids, or treated sludge, by a belt press or gravity filter and are eventually sent to the BVSWMA Compost Facility to produce high quality compost.
On average, the City of Bryan composts 1,600 dry tons of sludge from its wastewater treatment plants at the BVSWMA Compost Facility. This action saves valued disposal space in our region’s landfill while producing a valuable reuse product, which makes the City of Bryan the biggest recycler by volume within our 7-county region.
The Environmental Services Wastewater Laboratory performs analysis required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for each of Bryan’s three wastewater treatment plants. The lab is located at the City of Bryan’s Thompsons Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and operates seven days a week.
What Do We Use the Lab Analysis For?The data that is generated is used to determine:
- Plant Effluent (Treated Wastewater): Each of Bryan’s wastewater treatment plants have a Texas Pollution Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) Permit that requires them to report effluent limits on a monthly basis. The Laboratory tests and reports these numbers for the city’s wastewater treatment plants.
- Influent Characteristics: It is important to monitor the influent (or wastewater being received) at the treatment plans. If there is a problem due to unusual wastes being discharged into the sewer system, our treatment operators need to know so that proper adjustments can be made within the treatment process to insure that the waste will be properly treated.
- Compliance/Public Relations: It is important that each plant meets or exceeds the requirements established within their operating permit. A good set of laboratory records reassures the EPA, TCEQ, and City of Bryan residents that the treatment facilities are doing what is expected.
Hauled Waste Disposal
The City of Bryan’s Still Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is a receiving facility for septic, port-o-can and grease/grit trap waste in Brazos County. Permitted waste haulers may dispose of approved waste Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Please note that access may be denied during times of wet weather or other unforeseen circumstances. For questions regarding access, please call (979) 209-5655.
Still Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant will be closed for disposal on all of the following city recognized holidays:
- New Years Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Good Friday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Day after Thanksgiving
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas Day
Waste Transport Permit Requirement
All liquid waste transporters utilizing the Still Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant must be permitted by the City of Bryan’s Environmental Compliance Team before disposal privileges will be granted. Under this system, each vehicle used by a company to provide liquid waste hauling service (transport and disposal) within Bryan must have a permit. A copy of each transporter’s permit is required to be maintained in the vehicle at all times during the permit term. Disposal privileges will not be granted without proof of permit. Further information on the City’s liquid waste transporter permit can be obtained by calling the Environmental Compliance Team at (979) 209-5900.
Disposal Costs for Accepted Waste
- Grit: $0.21/gallon
- Grease: $0.17/gallon
- Septic/Port-A-Can: $0.08/gallon
Disposal Site Location
From the intersection of Harvey Mitchell Parkway (FM 2818) and Highway 21, drive approximately 1/10 of a mile west on Highway 21. The treatment plant entrance will be located on your right, just past the John Deere dealership. For more information regarding our location, please feel free to contact us at (979) 209-5655 or you can download this map.
Grease Trap Program
The City of Bryan maintains 377 miles of sewer line with over 22,000 connections from residential homes within its sewer system. Wastewater from customers travels through the sanitary sewer system to the wastewater treatment plant where it is processed and returned to the environment. Fats and oils from cooking grease are major sources of stoppages within the sewer system because when poured down the drain, these items coat, congeal, and accumulate onto the sewer pipes – causing reduced flows and promoting backups.
Commercial kitchens such as restaurants, schools, churches, and bakeries are required to install a grease trap to pretreat fats, oils, and grease found in their wash water. Commercial kitchens are of concern because of the impact their waste can have on the health of the sewer system if left untreated. These kitchen’s activities are monitored by the Environmental Compliance Team to ensure best management practices by the kitchen are being utilized.
Fats, oils, and grease are found in such things as:
- Meat Fats
- Food Scraps
- Baking Goods
- Cooking Oil
- Dairy Products
There are several easy steps that can be taken to promote a healthy sewer system, including but not limited to:
- Disposal of table scraps in the garbage.
- Use paper towels to wipe dishes, pots, and pans before washing.
- Avoid the use of garbage disposals.
- Freeze used cooking oils in a spill-proof container and place into your trash cart on your scheduled collection day.
- Recycle used cooking oils at the Bryan “Do-It-Yourself” Used Oil Recycling Center: 1111 Waco Street, Monday – Saturday, 8am – 5pm.
By working together to “Prevent the Clog”, the City of Bryan, its residents and businesses will benefit from:
- Reduced plumbing costs associated with clogs and stoppages in sewer lines.
- Reduction of unsightly sanitary sewer overflows attributed to fats, oils, and grease.
- Lower sewer rates by prolonging the life of the sanitary sewer by minimizing the need for pipe replacement and repair.
Industrial Pre-Treatment Program
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) requires entities with wastewater treatment capabilities of over 5 million gallons/day to design and implement an Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP) to protect its wastewater collection and treatment systems, personnel, and the environment.
Program participation is based on an industry’s categorical classification and volume of wastewater discharged. The IPP works to ensure that wastewater discharged from qualifying industries meets federal and state wastewater quality standards before it is discharged to the City’s wastewater collection and treatment system.
All industries participating in the IPP are required to sample their wastewater on a quarterly and annual basis, perform self-monitoring of their wastewater, and participate in regular inspections performed by City staff.
Surcharge fees are calculated based on the strength of each industry’s discharge and the volume of wastewater discharged. Surcharge fees are separate from monthly water and sewer usage fees, and are used to offset operational costs assumed by the City for collection and treatment of industrial wastewater.
- Industrial Waste Survey and Permit Application | (Instructions)
- Industrial Pretreatment Rate Resolution
Inflow and Infiltration
Sanitary sewers are designed to carry sewage and are not sized to handle added flows from inflow and infiltration. Inflow and infiltration are terms used to describe how groundwater and rainwater enter the sanitary sewer system. These sources are known as “clear water” to distinguish it from sewage.
As a rain event begins, the sanitary sewer starts to fill with clear water as a result of inflow and infiltration. Once the sanitary sewer system has reached capacity or become overloaded, water will flow backward through the sanitary sewer, flooding households and causing manholes to pop open releasing sewage and potential pathogens into the street and environment.
The City maintains approximately 375 miles of sewer pipe. Stretched end to end, the sanitary sewer would reach from Bryan to New Orleans, Louisiana. The City has implemented proactive approaches to its management and operation of the sewer system to minimize overflow occurrences associated with inflow and infiltration. These approaches include:
- Creating a prioritized preventive maintenance and sewer cleaning schedule.
- Mapping service history, overflows, and assets into GIS.
- Forecasting future repairs and system improvements.
- Implementing a scheduled inspection and condition assessment for sewer pipe.
- Reaching out to homeowners and businesses through public education.
The City performs routine inspections of the sewer system to identify defects in its system and sewer pipes from private homes and businesses. Typical defects in sewer piping such as cracks, leaking joints, collapsed lines and/or missing cleanout caps, serve as points of entrance for inflow and infiltration.
Property owners will be asked to repair defects identified as a result of sewer inspections. The City’s Sewer Lateral Grant Program and Sewer Lateral Assessment Program are simple and convenient ways for Bryan homeowners to offset the cost of repairing or replacing defects in their home’s sewer piping.
Contact us to learn more about these programs or actions you can take to prevent inflow and infiltration.
Backflow Prevention Program
Testing of backflow preventers and fire line backflow preventers in Bryan must be completed by a city-permitted service provider. Water Services’ Environmental Compliance Team is responsible for ensuring ordinance requirements for cross-connections and operation, maintenance, and testing for backflow preventers is met.
Backflow preventers installed at a commercial, industrial, or high risk facility are required to be registered with the city; residential installations are exempt from this requirement. Likewise, permit fees are assessed to service providers permitted with the city to perform testing on backflow prevention devices. Fees paid to the city are used to offset costs associated with program management.
Please contact a member of the Environmental Compliance Team at (979) 209-5900 or Email Public Works if you have questions or complaints regarding cross-connections or backflow prevention devices.
What is Cross-Connection?
A cross-connection is any physical arrangement where a public water system, such as the City of Bryan’s, is connected directly or indirectly to any other apparatus that may cause any substance other than the City’s drinking water to enter the potable water system.
What is Backflow?
Backflow means the flow in the direction opposite to the normal flow or the introduction of any foreign liquids, gases, or substances into the water distribution system. Backflow can occur under any set of hydraulic conditions where the system is not protected by an approved backflow assembly.
It is a logical assumption that because water is always under pressure, it can only flow in one direction. Can it flow in the opposite direction? The answer is yes, and when it does it sometimes can result in a disastrous event. Water will always flow toward the point of lowest pressure. If a main line in our system breaks or if a fire occurs and the fire department opens several hydrants, the pressure in our water mains could drop dramatically, causing a reversal of flow. The potential for this reversal of flow is why your water utility is concerned about the possibility for backflow of contaminates into our water system.
Cross-Connections at Home
Cross-connections and backflows can occur at your home. A garden hose submerged into a hot tub or swimming pool, or inserted into your car’s radiator to flush out the antifreeze, or attached to an insecticide sprayer could siphon that material back into our water mains. An underground sprinkler system could cause a problem if the piping used is not drinking water quality, if the water stagnates in the system, or if pesticides or herbicides are used in the irrigation system in any way. Some cross-connections are necessary and cannot be eliminated. Examples include the water line connected to a fire sprinkler system, to a solar heating system, or to many industrial uses.
The Dangers of Cross-Connections and Backflow
Many cross-connection incidents have been documented throughout the country. A high school in Oregon had ethylene glycol antifreeze from an air-conditioner backflow into the water piping sending eight teachers to the hospital. Many incidents have occurred where a car wash cross-connected their plumbing and pumped dirty, soapy water through several city blocks. Although actual backflow incidents are rare, don’t allow yourself to become a victim of cross-connections. Prevent backflow from occurring.
Prevention is Key
Fortunately, the remedy to cross-connections and potential cross-connections is simple preventative medicine. You, the home or business owner, may be required to have an approved backflow prevention assembly. For example, homeowners should utilize an assembly when an underground sprinkler system is installed or when a swimming pool is added. Commercial and industrial water users should utilize an assembly when they are using any substance besides drinking water in the plumbing system in any way.
The City of Bryan Water Services will help the water user identify potential cross-connections and suggest ways to eliminate them or recommend the proper backflow prevention measures to ensure the protection of the potable water system.