Council to discuss aging wastewater system — again

The city’s aging wastewater system will again be a topic of discussion amongst Odessa City Council members this week.

During the council’s work session at 3 p.m. Tuesday, the city council will talk about spending $90,000 with Carollo Engineering to study Line Q within the city’s collection system. Back in November, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued an odor nuisance violation to the city.

According to materials provided to the council, the utilities department needs to “characterize” the type of odor and the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the line before it can make recommendations on next steps to mitigate the odor.

Utilities Director Kevin Niles will also ask the city to consider spending close to $57,000 to upgrade the Derrington Plant’s dichlorination system, which is a sulfur dioxide injection system.

According to materials provided to the council by Niles, the system is currently a pressure system and he’d like to change it to a vacuum system.

Niles called the system “outdated and dangerous” and likely to leak or break down at any time.

“The team needs to make minor repairs on the system, but they are afraid making the repairs could damage the sulfinator and parts needed are no longer kept in stock,” Niles wrote.

Last month, the council heard a damning report about the Derrington Plant from Performance Services Inc. A representative told the council it’s been decades since any maintenance has been done on the city’s waterlines and she used words like non-functioning, unsafe and unrepairable to discuss various components at the plant.

Mayor Javier Joven formed a committee to figure out how to address the issues and how to pay for it.

During the council’s regular meeting, which starts at 6 p.m., the council may repeal the ordinance that provides grants to downtown merchants to improve their facades and infrastructure.

Since 2016, the Odessa Development Corporation has provided grant money to downtown businesses as a means to both attract new businesses and improve existing aesthetics.

Eligible business owners and operators can receive up to $25,000 in ODC grant money for their facades and up to $200,000 to revamp their infrastructure.

According to materials provided to the council, the ordinance needs to be repealed to “give more flexibility to the Odessa Development Corporation in amending the program as needed.”

The council will also discuss the possible creation of a committee to review how hotel/motel occupancy tax funds are spent on Tuesday. In addition, the council members are considering giving $50,000 from the HOT fund to the county for the Ector County Coliseum, which is turning 70 this year.

Coliseum Director Aaron Martin asked the council for the money in a recent letter noting the coliseum promotes tourism in the community. He noted that according to legend, the county was never billed for water until the 1980s and when the city began to bill them, the city agreed to offset the bill by donating money from the HOT fund since it’s one of the main taxes the coliseum feeds.

Martin noted the coliseum plays host to the Odessa Jackalopes and the Jackalopes Youth Hockey organization. The electrical expenses to maintain the ice is more than $60,000 a year and their annual budget for the water used to make the ice is $60,000, as well.

The council is also scheduled to discuss the possibility of using American Rescue Plan Act money to fund a free clinic for early diabetes detection. At the council’s last meeting they agreed, in theory, to give $1 million in ARPA money to Medical Center Hospital for the new mental health facility. The council will formally vote on that decision Tuesday night as well.

Other ways to spend the ARPA money will be discussed at the council’s work session, along with entering an agreement with the West Texas Soccer Association to use the city’s soccer facilities for their “select soccer teams.”

It will also hear from Copper Key Realty’s John Herriage about proposals to purchase old Fire Station #6 on Brentwood Drive.