By: Sarah Snyder
PECOS - A clog in the Pecos sewer lines left a big mess that has city officials and one of the biggest area employers trying to sop it all up.
This all started several days ago, when waste from a food processing plant piled up in the lines and overflowed right next to the main highway.
NewsWest 9 spoke with city leaders and the company to find out what they're doing to keep the water lines clear.
"We have a discharge on a public utility, that's major for us," Pecos City Manager, Joseph Torres, said.
The problem started over at the Trans-Pecos Food Plant. Leftover grease and batter drained into the city sewer lines causing a big backup. That backup surfaced at the Pecos Rodeo. The lines were so clogged the waste spilled out into an area off Highway 285, and that sparked an investigation from the TCEQ.
"It's critical," Torres said. "It's like if you have a fire or major wreck, those things that happen are considered major to us."
Piles are made up of onion rings and vegetable batter that slowly stopped up the sewer lines over the past several years. They say the spill never affected residential areas, but now, the City Council is trying to come up with a long term plan to protect their system.
"Once we complete the investigation, and this investigation allows for some kind of plan," Torres said. "Once we get with the plant management, we're hoping it doesn't happen. I hope we don't have to do this again."
The city tells NewsWest 9, the cost to clean up the mess won't drain taxpayer pockets. The food plant will be responsible for paying the clean-up bill. NewsWest 9 went to the plant to find out what they're doing to get back into compliance.
"The lines going from Trans Pecos Foods to the city are very small and in our opinion, inadequate," Tom Keim, President of Trans-Pecos Foods, said. "We are working with them to update our lines going out of here also. We are recording our waste daily on the operating floor. We put it into dumpsters and we haul it away to a landfill."
At this point, the TCEQ is still investigating the case, but in the meantime, city officials are working on a plan for a new wastewater treatment facility they hope will be constructed next year. Both the city and the Trans-Pecos Foods company say that new facility will be strong enough to handle any type of waste from the local manufacturing companies.