City Manager Marc Clayton says the issue occurs when an extreme rain limits the wastewater treatment plant's ability to handle the inflow and infiltration.
"Our plant is setup to handle a certain number of gallons per day and if we have massive rainfalls and we're developing huge volumes of flow to that plant it can't process it the way the TCEQ requires it to."
Clayton says the TCEQ is fully aware of this problem and that the City of Commerce is making improvements. But he says by issuing a fine/violation, the state hopes the improvements can be sped up.
In order for the city to avoid the fine, "We can establish some projects here locally that we can fund, which means we don't have to send the money to the state. We've got to fund a project that is environmentally positive for our city or our county," said Clayton.
The TCEQ has been notified of the city's intentions, and once a project is identified, has the authority to approve or reject that project. In a letter to the City of Commerce documenting their May 2 investigation, the state agency said that grab samples taken indicated elevated levels of total suspended solids, carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand, total chorine residual, and fecal coliform bacteria.
The city was notified of the violations on June 13.
In addition to the fine, the TCEQ also issued an order that the wastewater treatment plant implement a standard operating procedure to ensure that the facility and all of its systems of collection, treatment, and disposal are properly operated.