Pecos Gives Company Time to Fix Sewer Line Problem

by Sarah Snyder

PECOS - A battle over who's behind several messy sewer spills has put the entire city of Pecos in jeopardy. They've had so many spills that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is stepping in, and if it's not fixed the city may even lose its state wastewater license affecting everybody in Pecos.

Friday, city leaders met with the TCEQ to present a report on those spills and the action they're taking. So far, they've had five sewer line overflows and the city is pointing to the biggest employer in town as the culprit.

TransPecos Foods manufactures fried foods and city leaders say sewer overflows are at the hand of their leftover batter and grease.

"Each and every time it's the same material - it's batter," Pecos Mayor Richard Alligood said. "It's grease. You can reach down and know what it is."

TransPecos Foods is accused of five spills during the past few years. Each overflow runs the city $12,000 in clean up fees. At stake is their state license, something that would affect every citizen in town.

"The gravity of this situation is extreme," Mayor Alligood said. "If this isn't resolved, the City of Pecos could lose its license that permits it to run a sewer plant, a wastewater plant. That affects 12,000 people."

TransPecos Foods says all the waste is not their fault and they go to extreme measures to make sure that it doesn't seep into the lines. But both parties agree there are problems on both sides.

"I think the resolution the city made will allow us to move forward and fix the city infrastructure for the city as well as fix the infrastructure that we have at TransPecos Foods," TransPecos Foods President, Tom Keim said.

"If we do not have a plan in place to stop this, we will have no choice but to disconnect their services and take it into litigation," Mayor Alligood said.

Pecos officials decided to give TransPecos Foods 45 days to come up with a plan to dispose of their batter and grease waste. During that time, the city will gather samples from the plant and compare them to the samples from the sewer spills.

The TCEQ began their own investigation Friday. NewsWest9 will continue to follow all the developments.