Pflugerville response to March dechlorination pump failure
On Sunday, March 3, 2019, after noon, the City of Pflugerville’s Gilleland Creek wastewater treatment plant experienced a mechanical failure on the plant’s dechlorination pump. These pumps remove chlorine from the water prior to release into Gilleland Creek. The failure was discovered during a routine daily inspection on March 4, 2019, at 7:45 a.m. Repairs were made immediately, and it was estimated that during the time of the failure, an estimated 3.4 million gallons of treated, chlorinated effluent was discharged into Gilleland Creek downstream of the wastewater plant. It was determined the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system did not report the pump failure due to a communications issue between the pump and the SCADA system.
As required by law, city staff reported the discharge to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and began a downstream investigation and located a fish kill. City staff implemented monitoring and cleanup of the creek for the next several days following the discharge.
Repairs were made to the failed pump within 15 minutes after the failure was discovered. In addition, within the following week, repairs were made to the SCADA system and monitoring was expanded to include the transmission of pump run/failure information. Staff also made additional improvements, including the installation of a secondary wireless monitoring system and installation of a flow detection sensor. Finally, the City is in the process of expanding its wastewater treatment plant and will be converting to a UV disinfection system that will dramatically reduce the need for chemical treatment.
The City of Pflugerville cares deeply about the quality of our streams, rivers, and lakes and strives to hold our water quality to the highest standards. With this in mind, the City is preparing a response to TCEQ contesting the fine and proposing alternate means of restitution.