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Sewage controversy in Bolivar Peninsula

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Controversy is brewing over a proposal to build two water treatment plants on the Bolivar Peninsula.

The plants would be paid for by federal grant money, but some residents say that money could be better spent.

Residents we spoke with Wednesday were both for and against the idea of building two sewage plants for different reason. These plants would be paid for with federal disaster relief money at an estimated cost of $15 million.

"We have septic tanks, and we have had them all our lives up here," said longtime Bolivar resident Jesse Benavidas.

Benavidas says it was just after Hurricane Ike he spent $8,500 for a brand new septic system at his home and it's been working fine ever since.

Benavidas believes at this point, the proposed county sewage plants are a waste of money.

"Now it's going to be the same thing over again and then they will jack up the price on the water and jack up the price on the sewer line, so you are paying double," Benavidas said.

According to Galveston County grant coordinator Nick Foster, supporters of the sewage plants believe the plants would help boost the economy by bringing in more residents and businesses. Some environmentalist are also on board because the plants would help to reduce ground water pollution.

"Obviously a centralized sewer is much more environmentally friendly than septic systems," Foster said.

Foster tells us one of the proposed plants would be built in the heart of Crystal Beach. The other proposed plant in High Island, near the high school.

Foster added residents who are already on their own system would not be required to hook into the county system.

"We encourage them to because obviously even if it's a new septic system, a central sewage system is going to be cleaner," Foster said.

Other residents we spoke with, like Fran Griffin, says the sewage plants are needed but residents need to be informed more about the cost to make an educated decision.

"The existing sewage system they have here is cost prohibited. By the time you pay for the grinder, by the time you pay for the extra water, the time you pay your water bill, it's not worth it," Griffin said.

Griffin says depending on a monthly cost, the county run sewer plants would be worth it for new and existing homes and businesses.

"If the cost if good, if it's a reasonable cost, they might elect to go onto the sewer system," she said.

In two weeks from now, county commissioners will possibly vote whether to proceed forward with the plans to build those two sewage plants. We will keep you updated on the progress.

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