By John Johnson
Heavy rains that pounded Central Texas in October and devastating floods that quickly followed narrowly missed Plains Cotton Cooperative Association’s Mission Valley Fabrics (MVF) plant in New Braunfels, although some damage was sustained by the plant’s waste-water treatment facility.
The MVF plant is located on the banks of the Guadalupe River which swelled to the highest level on record due to the relentless rains and caused fatalities and millions of dollars in property damage in New Braunfels and areas further downstream. The river’s level rose more than 30 feet in an eight-hour period on October 17.
“There were few MVF employees in the plant that day, and as soon as we realized a flash flood was imminent, we sent them home and shut down all operations,” explains MVF Plant Manager Bryan Gregory. “Our first concern was employee safety, and fortunately, no one was injured,” he adds. The plant’s waste-water ponds, sludge press operation and waste-water treatment lab were inundated by the Guadalupe’s flood waters.
“We immediately contacted the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC) which is the state agency with oversight on environmental concerns,” Gregory continues. “We explained the situation and our response, and TNRCC determined there was no threat to the environment.”
The waste-water facility’s color removal system which contains an osmonic unit to generate ozone was completely destroyed. Until the unit can be replaced, MVF is using another TNRCC-approved process for this purpose.
“We will replace the osmonic unit and related equipment as soon a possible because it is much more effective and environmentally friendly,” explains Gregory. MVF carries insurance policies for property damage that will cover the losses as well as for business interruption.
“Due to a lot of teamwork and effort by our maintenance department and shift supervisors, we were able to limit lost production to only four days,” says Gregory. When you view the devastation here in the New Braunfels and other communities, you soon realize this plant was very fortunate.”