Sewer plant project could leave Conroe with stinky situation

Conroe City Councilman Curt Maddux said he was concerned about the removal of odor control measures from the city’s wastewater treatment plant project. Jason Fochtman, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

The Conroe City Council is revisiting its wastewater treatment plant project after several cost cutting measures may have left the plant without odor control measures.

The new plant, which is being constructed on 25-acres of a 50-acre greenfield site east of Interstate 45 north of South Loop 336, will have a six million gallons a day capacity with the ability to be expanded to 12 MGD.

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. is the project’s design engineer, while LEM Construction Co, Inc. is the contractor.

Melissa Mack, senior associate and principal with Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, said the plant will have a capacity of six million gallons a day but has been designed to be expanded to 12 million gallons a day. The new facility will serve both existing and new customers.


The city began construction on the new $60 million plant in January 2020. At that time, city staff worked with the contractor to cut $5 million from the original price tag of $64 million. According to city staff members, odor control devices were among the items removed from project.

“When we changed the process of the plant from a (adsorption/bio-oxidation process) to a traditional activated sludge process, we removed the covers at that time during a redesign,” Public Works Director Norman said during the city’s regular meeting Wednesday. “We didn’t feel they were as warranted with the different process.”

City Engineer Chris Bogart said the staff does have concerns about the potential odor but said the issue could be addressed down the road.

“This is a state-of-the-art plant so what we want to do is operate it and if we do have an odor issue then if can add a CIP and correct it,” Bogart said. “I think it will be a low odor plant but it is a sewer plant. I’m hesitant to give you a guarantee.”

Council members said with homes, schools and even the new Oscar Johnson Community Center adjacent to the plant, the city should look at adding those odor control measures back into the project.

“During the process I know we took out several things … what we are asking is are there other things we took out especially related to odor that we shouldn’t have,” said Mayor Pro Tem Raymond McDonald. “We do believe odor control is important.”


Councilman Curt Maddux said sewage odor near homes and schools is a concern.

“It’s a large project and being where it is at with housing and schools, the last thing I would want to cut would be any odor control on the facility,” Maddux said.

Councilman Todd Yancy said he was concerned about the potential affect for patrons to the new community center.

“We don’t want people out there, kids playing and people calling saying ‘my gosh, I’m not coming back because of this odor,’” he said.

Bogart told the council he would put together information on adding the odor control measure back in and bring back for discuss at a future meeting.

Written by Catherine Dominguez

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