The first phase of a major sewer system upgrade for Gonzales is coming in $311,000 under budget, the city engineer said at a City Council meeting Monday.

Some $1.5 million had been budgeted for the first of three phases in the sewer system project, which involved the videotaping and subsequent repair of the sewer lines in the oldest part of Gonzales, City Engineer Jackie Baumann said.

It was that videotaping that allowed the contractor for the work, Gulf Coast Underground, to be extremely precise on what and where repairs were needed, she said.

That precision knocked $311,000 off the Phase 1 project costs, for a total of just under $1.2 million, Baumann said.

Before the repairs to the older sewer lines, leaks would admit enough rain water into the lines to increase the volume of water treated at the waste water treatment facility by 20 percent, Baumann has said.

“I am excited to say we are closing out that project under budget,” she told council members Monday.

The council happily approved what’s called a “balancing change order” to account for the savings.

A year ago, the city received a $15 million loan from the state Department of Environmental Quality to upgrade and expand its sewer system to meet future demand, particularly for new developments south of Interstate 10.

In the next phase, the city’s waste water treatment facility will be expanded so it can treat a higher volume of water.

Baumann said Monday the city is in the permitting process for that phase.

In the third and final phase, the city will expand its sewer system south of I-10, the area that’s home to the Edenborne development and the location of the Conway mixed-use development also coming there.

The DEQ loan for the sewer system project operates as a line of credit, City Clerk Clay Stafford has said, and is paid out as work is completed and invoices are submitted to DEQ.

The city, Stafford said, will repay the DEQ loan with funds generated by a half-cent sales tax voters approved in 1989 for improvement of the sewer system.