Hornsby Bend Stakeholder Update September 2021

This update includes the following:

  • Update on the tree removal project and mowing along the treatment pond embankments
  • Update on construction project progress and road closures
  • Progress on the old aquatic greenhouse and pump station demolition

Although we had hoped to be restarting the Hornsby Bend Stakeholder Public Meetings this month, the current COVID stage prevents meeting in person, but we want to update everyone on construction project progress and the annual pond road closures for the tree removal project.

Tree removal and treatment pond embankment mowing –

  • We are required by the TCEQ to remove all trees from the treatment pond embankments because they can threaten the stability of the embankments. Only trees under 6” trunk diameter or diseased, damaged, dying trees larger than 6” trunk diameter are being removed. Larger healthy trees will remain until they begin to die or get damaged. As embankments are cleared, we must mow them to control tree regrowth.
  • To prevent negative impacts on bird nesting, we only do the tree removal and embankment mowing outside of migratory bird nesting season as delineated by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (March 15 – September 15), and so all work on the pond embankments can only be done between September 16 and March 14 each year.
  • This year the contractor has begun the pond embankment work September 28th starting at the east end of the pond road between Pond 1 and 2. While working on an embankment, they will close that section of pond road for the safety of visitors. Other pond roads remain open for visitor access.
  • Over the coming weeks, the contractor will work on to other sections of the pond embankments and temporarily close sections of pond roads while they work.

Construction project progress and road closures –

  • Over the last two years the side stream plant has been rebuilt to help improve the water quality of the “side stream” water (the water removed from the sewage sludge as we thicken it for treatment and recycling) before it enters the treatment ponds. Construction work on the side stream treatment plant at the west end of Pond 1 and 2 has finishing, and the new plant has begun operation. However the western pond roads will remain closed during the transfer pump station construction.
  • The new transfer pump station construction project began this spring 2021 and is scheduled to be done in 2022. It will be located on the embankment at the west end of Pond 2 and will replace the old pump station below Pond 2 near the aquatic greenhouse. The transfer pump station will do two things. Firstly, it will pump treatment pond water from Pond 2 to our new center pivot irrigation units which are currently being installed in the hay fields to the north and south of the main entrance road. Secondly, it will allow us to pump treatment pond water in a pipeline under the river which will connect to a large wastewater line that goes to the South Austin Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. This new pipeline will assure that, even with ever increasing inflows to the Hornsby Bend Plant, the treatment ponds will never overflow.
  • The western pond roads will remain closed to visitor vehicles until the completion of the transfer pump station construction project.

Aquatic greenhouse and pump station demolition –

  • As part of the new transfer pump station project, the old aquatic greenhouse and pump station are being demolished. That work is expected to finish by the end of this year.  You can follow the progress of the demolition through photos on the CER Facebook page. After demolition and site cleanup, the area will be allowed to return to riparian forest.
  • We have temporarily closed the River Trail which runs next to the greenhouse and pump station during this demolition, but, when demolition is complete, the construction fences will be pulled back to the area where the new pump station and pipeline are being built, and trail access through this area and to Pond 3 will be reopened.

Lastly – the CER is open 7 days a week for restroom access, and the Hornsby Bend site (both the main gate and Platt Lane) is also open 7 days a week dawn to dark for visitors to chase birds, bugs, and other wildlife or just to sit by the river and do no chasing at all. We look forward to everyone getting vaccinated and COVID levels dropping to where we can restart our weekend activities again. Watch our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates on restarting river survey trips, field trips, and volunteer work days.

– Kevin M. Anderson Ph.D.