Ingram in midst of decade-long wastewater struggle

City's ultimate goal is to clean up Guadalupe River

INGRAM, Texas – Infrastructure can often be taken for granted, as many Texas cities have sewers and wastewater systems. Not all, though, have that luxury.

Ingram, a small town located just outside Kerrville, was without a wastewater system for many years.

Now, the town has spent the better part of a decade transitioning from septic systems to community sewer lines.

"It has been a long journey to get here and there's going to be more to come," said Ingram Mayor James Salter.

A long journey may be an understatement. The city first delved into the process in 2002, after receiving a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. From there, Ingram has faced more than a decade's worth of bureaucratic minutiae in a fight to find funding and support.

"Our city secretary is deluged with paperwork," said Salter.

In addition, the city has faced frustrated local businesses who do not want to pay to hook up to wastewater lines and even a petition from upset citizens to dissolve the local government over fears of city debt.

"We are in the debt to the tune of $3 million, but we have a $9 million system, so we've got a $6 million asset and that's hard for people to understand that that's a good place to be," explained Salter.

Salter, though, is passionate about seeing the process, through, because of what lies in Ingram's backyard: the Guadalupe River.

Recent tests have shown that the Guadalupe River near Ingram is as clean as it has been in a long time. The city credits the new infrastructure for the improvement.

"We're doing something right," said Salter. "We've connected over 500 people now."

Decommissioning septic systems has historically improved water quality in other towns, with similar results expected in Ingram. Officials also believed having a wastewater system will improve the local economy by drawing new businesses in. Those hooked up to the system will see monthly bills, however.

Salter estimated five more years of work is needed before the project is completed, but his ultimate goal has not been lost: "To clean up the river for the kids and make Ingram a place that's a destination," answered Salter.

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