You may have heard the phrase “only rain down the storm drain,” but what about pollutants that are washed down other types of drains— in plants, factories, restaurants, and many other businesses?
There are two independent systems for conveying water. One is our stormwater system that takes untreated rain water, irrigation water, residential car wash water, etc., and conveys it through “stormwater pipes/boxes” and open channels into the Guadalupe River.
The second system is our wastewater collection system. This system takes your washing machine water, toilet water, kitchen dishwater, etc., and conveys it through pipes to one of our two treatment facilities, where it is cleaned before being discharged into the Guadalupe River. Even with this process in place, businesses still need to take steps to limit the pollutants they send to us with their wastewater.
This is because the more contaminated the water is, the more difficult and costly it is to treat—both for us and for communities downstream who rely on the Guadalupe River for drinking water, just like we do. Also, improper waste disposal can wreak havoc on our sewer system, causing problems at nearby homes and businesses. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality require communities to adopt standards to protect our water sources.
The City of Victoria offers guidance for those who are looking to start a new business and who may need help navigating wastewater standards and other types of regulations.
Whether you’re starting your business in a new or existing building, the first thing you should do is schedule a no-cost predevelopment conference with Development Services by calling 361-485-3360. You will have a chance to discuss your project with City staff before you buy property or sign a lease, and we’ll tell you about the questions you should be considering, such as: What are your plans for water and sewer service? Does your space comply with fire and safety codes, health codes, etc.? Our staff will collectively assist you through every step, including any applicable fees that may be associated with the development process.
For any type of business that has wastewater requirements, my department works hands-on with you to ensure that they’re being followed. If you’re building a new structure, we’ll look at your plans and tell you if you need any additional pretreatment equipment. If you’re developing an existing space, we’ll walk through the space with you and let you know if anything is missing. This is important even if the building has already been used for the same purpose, since codes may have changed since the space was developed.
During this process, we help to explain requirements that might not be obvious if you’re not familiar with pretreatment. For example, if you’re serving and rinsing vegetables, their oils are going down the drain (vegetable oil). The same goes for other foods, such as avocados, which produce avocado oil. All foods, short of water, produce oil and grease. This means that even if you aren’t frying foods, you may still need a food interceptor.
Just like many other types of business regulations, wastewater treatment standards are a necessary part of protecting our community’s health and safety—in this case, by protecting our water supply. By working together to keep our water free of contaminants, we’re helping to ensure that future generations have a clean source of water and that they can swim, fish and enjoy our natural water sources like we do today.
If you have any questions about wastewater pretreatment, you can contact my department at 361-485-3186 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional small business guidance at no cost, please reach out to the City of Victoria Economic Development at 361-485-3121 or email@example.com, or contact the University of Houston-Victoria’s Small Business Development Center at 361-485-4485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucia Hernandez is the environmental compliance & customer service manager for the City of Victoria Public Works.