Austin, Texas approves $1 billion upgrade for Walnut Creek wastewater plant

(UI) — The Austin City Council has approved contracts worth over $1 billion for the enhancement and expansion of the Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the City of Austin announced in a press release.

The Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Austin, Texas, is slated to get $1 billion in upgrades. (Image Source:

Construction is slated to begin in 2025, adding 25 million gallons per day of treatment capacity to accommodate population growth. The current plant can treat up to 75 million gallons per day.

Significant upgrades will modernize and replace aging infrastructure, incorporating advanced operational and environmental features. One major improvement is the replacement of the disinfection system with ultraviolet (UV) light technology, eliminating the use of chlorine and enhancing safety for workers and the community.

Additionally, the treatment process will be upgraded to reduce nutrients that contribute to algae growth, benefiting the health of the Colorado River downstream of Austin. To bolster the plant's resiliency, a flood protection wall will be constructed around the facility.

The project will involve construction in all areas of the plant, which will remain operational throughout. Due to the complexities of maintaining operations and updating nearly 50-year-old components, a collaborative delivery method known as Construction Manager at Risk will be employed. This approach allows the contractor to contribute to the design process, enhancing constructability, maintenance, scheduling, coordination, and cost control.

“With these investments, every part of the treatment process will be enhanced and upgraded, and we will be prepared to serve the growing needs of our city,” said Shay Ralls Roalson, Director of Austin Water.

“Austin Water’s management and stewardship of Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and our wastewater infrastructure generally is one of our most important environmental legacies,” Roalson added. “Because of the careful planning and around-the-clock efforts of our workforce, Austin Water will continue to provide this vital service in a responsible manner.”

History of Walnut Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

  • Built in 1977 (18 million gallons per day capacity)
  • Expanded in 1987, 1990 and 2005 to reach current capacity of 75 million gallons per day
  • 2013 – 2024 $100 million invested in replacement and upgrades at the plant

Project Cost Overview (amounts are approximate):
Renewal Projects - $270 million

  • $160 million – Rehabilitation of Primary and Flow Equalization Basin Rehab
  • $90 million – Rehabilitation of Headworks #1
  • $20 million – Replace and upgrade Influent Lift Station

Expansion Projects - $440 million

  • $380 million – 25 MGD Capacity Expansion with nutrient removal and UV disinfection
  • $60 million – New influent and outfall pipelines

Treatment Conversion Projects - $220 million

  • $220 million – 75 MGD process treatment conversion to nutrient removal and UV disinfection

Protection of Plant Projects - $120 million

  • $80 million – Wet Weather Facility for high flows during rain events
  • $40 million – Flood Wall around plant

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