City's wastewater treatment plant gets best grade ever after 'surprise' inspection
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

January 16, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs' wastewater treatment facility received its best grade ever as the result of a 'surprise' inspection this week by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"They show up every year about this time," said City Manager Marc Maxwell. "Every other year or so, they call it a 'major inspection' where they are not only representing themselves but also the Environmental Protection Agency - and this was a major inspection."

The wastewater plant, for a number of years, has received favorable inspection reports from the state agency, but in previous inspections some minor violations had been reported. The city was found to be completely in compliance with all state and federal requirements in the latest review.

"This is the first time they haven't even identified what they call 'areas of concern,'" Maxwell said. "These were usually the little picky deals, like one year we didn't have a couple of the chemical bottles labeled in the lab."

Maxwell said a serious deficiency or infraction can cost a city thousands of dollars in fines that recently increased from $10,000 a day to $20,000 a day.

"It is a big concern," Maxwell said. "They have the ability to really hammer us if we're not running a tight ship."

Over the past several years the city has built a reputation by running an extremely efficient operation.

The city's waste water permit allows for the discharge of effluent that contains 15 parts per million, or less, of solids during the winter months. That figure drops to 12 parts per million during the summer.

The Sulphur Springs facility consistently stays well below the state and federal minimums.

The efficient operation of the plant, the city manager said, can be attributed to the Craig Vaughn and the staff at the plant.

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