Sherman adjusts acceptable levels for chemicals in wastewater

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
The Sherman City Council has approved changes to the levels of chemicals that industries are allowed to put into the wastewater system. City officials said this change was made to better reflect the current demand by area industries.

The city of Sherman is adjusting the levels of chemicals of chemicals that are allowed to be sent to the wastewater plant to better reflect the current demand.

On Monday, the city council voted unanimously to amend its utility ordinance to adjust the levels of chemicals pollutants that area industries are allowed to put into the wastewater stream. This comes as the city is looking to update its distribution based on the city’s current industries.

“This is something the city updates at least once every decade if not sooner, but it has been quite some time since we’ve updated it,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.

The ordinance, which was approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in May 2011, outlines how much of a variety of chemicals industries are able to put into the wastewater stream.

“We received tentative approval from the TCEQ to modify our daily maximum pollutant limit for our treatment program. These changes do not increase the limit of pollutants that leave the wastewater treatment plant, but do increase the limit allowed for individual users.”

However, city officials said the levels were outdated and did not reflect the city’s industrial makeup or pollution levels. Over the years, new industries have come in, while others left. others still updates their production and no longer use all if any of their allocation, city officials said.

“Over the years we determined was that we had this pie and we were dealing out one piece per industry,” Assistant City Manager Clint Philpott said. “Some of those industries weren’t using any of their piece. In the way our ordinance was written, we couldn’t give two pieces to one group.”.

The changes primarily focused on arsenic and molybdenum, a chemical used in the hardening of steel. Under the changes, the allowed limits of molybdenum was increased from 0.08 milligrams per liter to 0.274 milligrams per liter.

The section on Arsenic was relocated and states that no significant industrial user identified as a contributing industry can discharge wastewater that exceeds 0.126 milligrams per liter.

Philpott stressed that these changes will not impact the levels in the waters treated by the city, but instead state what can be sent to the city for treatment.

“Essentially the state says you are able to treat water containing this much arsenic,” Strauch said. “As these companies go out of business and are replaced by new ones with different needs, we periodically look at this to see if it works or if we need to adjust it.”

Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at