Peek behind the curtain by touring the Lick Creek sewer plant after Friday’s ribbon-cutting

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

We use water for daily food preparation, laundry, cleaning, and bathing, to name a few. But what happens when that water goes down the drain?

On Friday, The City of College Station invites you to learn how wastewater is transformed into clean water when we dedicate the $39 million expansion of Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant at 11 a.m. After the ribbon cutting, we’ll take interested residents on a tour of the largest capital project in our city’s history.  

The expansion serves the sanitation needs of up to 50,000 people and more than doubles the daily wastewater treatment capacity from 2 million to 5 million gallons. Five million gallons is enough to fill 7½ Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Lick Creek Treatment Plant History

From its beginning, the Lick Creek plant has been positioned to accommodate College Station’s growth while providing reliable wastewater treatment that protects the environment.

In the early 1980s, developer William D. Fitch proposed a residential development near Rock Prairie Road, about two miles east of Highway 6. For that to happen, the city needed a wastewater treatment plant to serve the area’s new homes. In 1987, the Lick Creek plant began operating on land dedicated to wastewater treatment, surrounded by beautiful city-owned property that eventually became Lick Creek Park.

The plant treated up to 500,000 gallons of wastewater daily and primarily served the developing Pebble Creek neighborhood. In 2002, the first significant expansion added headworks, aeration basins, clarifiers, and ultraviolet disinfection while increasing daily capacity to 2 million gallons (MGD).

By 2014, the Wastewater Master Plan identified additional growth to the south and provided a phased approach to increasing treatment capacity. Construction of the first phase of the expansion began in 2019 and was substantially completed this summer. If we started the project today, the facility’s price tag would almost double because of inflation.

Environmental Impact

Polluted rivers sometimes caught fire before the Clean Water Act took effect in the early 1970s. Today’s wastewater treatment plants operate under discharge permits with pollutant limits designed to protect water quality and aquatic life.

The Lick Creek plant uses state-of-the-art technology to remove pollutants harmful to aquatic life in our creeks. Cloth filters can remove suspended solids as small as a red blood cell or the thickness of Saran wrap. The treated wastewater, known as effluent, is also disinfected using ultraviolet light (the same light that gives you a sunburn) rather than chlorine, which can harm aquatic life in the receiving stream and create disinfection byproducts that could cause problems downstream.

A pair of 600-kW generators provide reliability and resilience and ensure the plant can operate during a power outage. Wastewater treatment is an essential service that must continue regardless of weather, holidays, or other obstacles.

We hope you can attend Friday’s ribbon-cutting event and join us for a tour to see your yourself what happens when the water goes down the drain.  

For more information, go to

About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.

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