A new development in the Austin – San Antonio region called Cherryville has created a wastewater plan that proposes dumping treated sewage into the nearby San Marcos River. When this city is completed in a few years, it will be twice the size of Lockhart, with 25,000 residents. Unfortunately, as the Hill Country region continues to experience rapid population growth and urban development, similar issues threaten other regional waterways. We know there is a better way to develop without destroying waterways.
Cherryville’s permit application sent to the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) asks to authorize discharge of up to 160,000 gallons/day. This amounts to more than 58 million gallons/year. Additionally, the TCEQ has agreed to a minimal water quality standard which allows for high levels of Ammonia Nitrogen, a toxic pollutant that can negatively impact fish hatching and growth and the development of tissues in fish gills, liver, and kidneys. Elevated levels can also lead to serious health consequences in humans.
Furthermore, TCEQ has not required testing for Phosphorus or total Nitrogen levels. Both of these nutrients are known to cause a number of adverse health and ecological effects when they reach a level of overabundance. They speed up dense overgrowth of algae and lead to a reduction in oxygen levels in water bodies which harms aquatic life. These impacts have been seen as a result of Liberty Hill’s wastewater plant dumping into the San Gabriel River, just outside of Georgetown, TX.
Not only will these conditions seriously alter the water quality of the San Marcos River, diminishing its recreational and aesthetic value and negatively impacting aquatic life, it will also threaten the drinking water supply for Fentress, a community which sources water from several municipal wells located along the river.
If you are concerned about the impacts of this proposed plan, write a comment to TCEQ using permit # WQ0015738001: https://www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/ Ask TCEQ to reject the Cherryville wastewater permit to protect the San Marcos River and local residents.