July 9, 2018
“No Discharge, for Now,” in Dripping Springs Wastewater Case
Save Barton Creek Association, Protect Our Water, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, and several landowners have entered into a settlement agreement over Dripping Springs’ direct discharge wastewater permit.
The permit has faced strong opposition over its impact on Onion Creek, drinking water wells, and Barton Springs. As originally drafted, it would have allowed 995,000 gal/day of treated sewage to be discharged directly into a tributary of Onion Creek. Onion Creek has proven interactions with local groundwater and wells, and supplies approximately a third of the flow at Barton Springs.
“As a result of the efforts of SBCA and the other protestants, Dripping Springs has agreed not to dump sewage into Onion Creek for the immediate future and create a Utility Commission that will help them meet their goals of wastewater re-use. A permit will still be issued but, if Dripping Springs stands by their commitments and the community continues to work together to protect our creeks and aquifers, we might be able to hand down to future generations a legacy we can be proud of.” said Clark Hancock, SBCA board president.
“What this agreement says is ‘No Discharge for now’.” Hancock continued, “What we need is ‘No Discharge forever’. SBCA is committed to continued engagement with Dripping Springs to help them meet their pledge of 100% reuse of wastewater. Our greater concern is that this issue isn’t limited to Dripping Springs. Region wide, there are others who are greedily looking at their local creeks as easy and cheap answers to complicated questions. They are wrong. Discharging sewage into local creeks is short-sighted and environmentally devastating, destroying the very essence of what makes the Hill Country so special. SBCA will continue our campaign against the practice of direct discharge, continuing to support sound science and wise engineering for Central Texas. We can do better, we must do better, we will do better, for we have no choice!”
The plant operates today at 90,000 gallons per day through a land application permit, where treated wastewater is sprayed on an irrigation field. Under this new settlement Dripping Springs agrees not to directly discharge into the creek while plant capacity is 399,000 gal/day and below. The settlement also reduces the volume that may ultimately be treated at the plant from 995,000 gal/day to 822,500 gal/day. Dripping Springs also agreed to certain amounts of irrigatable acreage in the form of beneficial reuse contracts and storage for their beneficial reuse system.