Sound mitigation efforts and a new sound survey are underway at the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant in West Austin, where a five-year improvement program has also begun.
Bill Stauber, division manager of engineering service for Austin Water, said the $978 million program will include process enhancements to the plant, but does not include plans to expand the 167 million gallons per day capacity. The projects will be built on the current site and within the fence line.
The Ullrich Water Treatment Plant, which operates 24 hours per day, sits less than a mile from West Lake Hills City Hall and provides potable water to thousands of residents, most south of the Colorado River and customers in Water District 10.
After being pumped from the river, the water goes through several treatment steps including screening, disinfection, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation and filtration to ensure that residents are provided with clean and safe water. The process can take several hours.
Last year, a few West Lake Hills neighbors spoke out about the noise that comes from the plant. One woman said the noise was so loud it kept her up at night.
Since then, Julie Hollandsworth, division manager of water treatment for Austin Water, said the plant has taken some steps to help alleviate the noise. The plant has reduced the speed of the exhaust fans and muffled the front gate travel alarms. Trucks deliveries and hauling off equipment, and garbage and recycle pickup has also been limited to certain times of the day. Maintenance that is expected to be noisy is also being scheduled before the evening hours.
She said newer trucks can also be fitted with quieter external blowers on them to help mitigate some of the sounds.
“These small steps are ongoing,” Hollandsworth said.
But some of the program’s larger projects will also help mitigate sound. The program calls for an $11.5 million construction project to modify the lime feed system, and improvements are expected to go through 2022.
A 2008 sound survey said the sounds coming from the blowers on that building could be improved. Stauber said improvements to the blower have begun and will help mitigate some sounds. That new project also will minimize the need for truck drivers to use their external blowers,
Other improvements include zebra mussel mitigation; pump station electrical feed renewal, expected to begin in January 2021; flood resiliency improvements; roof, door and window renewal throughout the complex; and sodium hypochlorite and liquid ammonium sulfate conversion.
Projects are staggered to begin over the next few years, Stauber said, and are based on the needs of the plant.
As improvements continue, residents are encouraged to sign up to receive periodic updates via email.