Press Release

Zapata Wastewater Plant: Rep. Cuellar’s Office Marks Groundbreaking of Improvement Project

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Washington, May 12, 2017 | Victoria Glynn | comments

Today, staff from the office of Congressman Henry Cuellar marked the groundbreaking of a project to improve the wastewater treatment plant in Zapata, funded by grants he helped secure for the county government.

The Congressional staff joined County Judge Joe Rathmell, and County Commissioners Norberto Garza, Eddie Martinez, Paco Mendoza, and Olga Elizondo, as Premier Engineering General Manager Manuel Gonzalez ceremonially broke ground on the new Zapata County Waterworks Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements Project. The project is funded by a $4.8 million loan and a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities program, which Congressman Cuellar assisted Zapata County with securing in in 2010. The county is currently working with USA to secure additional funding for the project, which has an estimated total cost of $11,254,635.

To mark the occasion, Francis Atwell, Outreach Coordinator for Congressman Cuellar, presented a certificate of recognition to the county officials and Premier Engineering staff. The ceremony followed a pre-construction meeting among key personnel and stakeholders, to discuss the logistics, timeline, and other details of the project.

“The project will double the capacity of the Zapata County Wastewater Treatment Plant, which will ensure all wastewater is treated properly before being introduced back into the environment. That is essential for the health and safety of my constituents in Zapata County,” explained Congressman Cuellar. “I fought for these funds because improving this plant will help safeguard the health of our community here. I’d like to thank County Judge Joe Rathmell, all the Commissioners, and the USDA for working together on this important issue.”

Francis Atwell, Outreach Coordinator for Congressman Henry Cuellar, presents a certificate of recognition to Zapata County officials at the groundbreaking of the improvement project for the wastewater plant. Left to right: Zapata County Judge Joe Rathmell; Francis Atwell; Zapata County Commissioners Norberto Garza, Eddie Martinez, and Paco Mendoza.

“Having safe and reliable water and waste disposal services is vital to the health of rural communities,” said Daniel Torres, USDA Rural Development Texas Acting State Director.  “Rural Development is pleased to be a part of this groundbreaking, to improve wastewater services for Zapata County.”

The current plant is decades old, and badly in need of upgrades. It is operating at about 98% of its capacity – an unsustainable level, well above the 90% maximum recommended – and is struggling to meet the standards of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Its two existing oxidation ditches, which are part of the wastewater treatment process, have major structural damage. Other key plant equipment cannot be operated safely and needs total replacement.

The major improvement project will double the capacity of the plant from .8 MGD (millions of gallons per day), to 1.6 MGD. It will replace or add necessary equipment so the plant is capable of meeting environmental and health standards.

The planned improvements include the construction of:

  • 1 new Headworks Facility
  • 1 new Carrousel Basin
  • 2 new Secondary Clarifiers
  • 1 new Clarifier Splitter Box
  • 1 new RAS/WAS Pump Station
  • 1 new Cloth Media Filter Basin
  • 1 new Chlorine Contact/Dechlorination Basin
  • 1 new Chlorination/Dechlorination System with Fiberglass Shelter
  • 1 new Electrical Building; and
  • 1 new Administration/Laboratory Building. 

Zapata County Commissioners Norberto Garza, Eddie Martinez, Paco Mendoza, and Olga Elizondo join Zapata County Judge Joe Rathmell, Congressman Henry Cuellar's Outreach Coordinator Francis Atwell, and Premier Engineering General Manager Manuel Gonzalez for a ceremonial groundbreaking of the Zapata County Waterworks Treatment Plant Improvements Project.
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