Plant Operations

The Plant Operations Section is charged with protecting public health and the environment of the community by treating an average of 250 million gallons per day (MGD) of raw sewage, also called wastewater, with an overall permitted capacity of 564 MGD.

The wastewater is generated by residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The section operates 39 wastewater treatment facilities and 3 wet weather facilities, servicing an area of approximately 640 square miles, and a population of over 2.1 million people.


The success of our Wastewater Operations Branch can be measured by its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) discharge permit compliance rate of 99%. In 2017, the City was honored with six Platinum Peak Performance Awards by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for the 2016 calendar year. The criteria for these awards are for consistently meeting EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits for five or more consecutive years for the Platinum Awards, no permit violations during the calendar year for a Gold Award and no more than five permit violations during the calendar year for a Silver Award. In 2016, the City received 35 Platinum, Gold and Silver awards for the 2015 calendar year.

There are 39 wastewater treatment plants with permitted capacities ranging from 0.15 MGD to 200 MGD of flow, plus three wet weather facilities. These facilities are typically advanced secondary treatment plants utilizing the activated sludge process. The largest facility is the 69th Street Wastewater Treatment Plant (also the largest within EPA Region 6).

Most of the biosolids produced are processed at the 69th Street and Almeda Sims Treatment Plants. The 69th Street also receives sludge from 14 smaller treatment plants. At these facilities, the biosolids are heat dried to produce a class “A” organic fertilizer called Hou-Actinite. The end product has been sterilized and pelletized, is clean and easy to handle, and is a nutrient rich fertilizer with excellent soil enrichment properties. Approximately 32,000 dry tons per year of Hou-Actinite is produced. In addition to Hou-Actinite, 12,400 dry tons of class “B” cake per year is produced at 10 smaller Wastewater Treatment Plants. This product is intended to be used as beneficial organic fertilizer on local grazing land in Southeast Texas.

The wet weather facilities are operated during storm events when either the treatment plant or collection system becomes overwhelmed with infiltration/inflow water generated by the storm event.