May 28, 2018
(AUSTIN) – A preliminary hearing was held last week by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), resulting in the addition of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) and Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) to the battle against the contested Dripping Springs wastewater permit. These two districts now join Save Barton Creek Association, Save Our Springs, Protect Our Water, and some Dripping Springs landowners as participants in the case against the City Of Dripping Springs. The city wishes to obtain a permit for dumping up to 995,000 gallons per day of treated sewage into pristine Onion Creek, in the Texas hill country.
The addition of the two groundwater conservation districts to the case confirms that the underground water bodies they manage would be negatively impacted by the proposed Dripping Springs wastewater permit. An Onion Creek dye study recently completed by BSEACD showed conclusively that what goes into Onion Creek winds up in the local groundwater, with eight different wells showing presence of dye that was added to Onion Creek. This hydrologic communication between Onion Creek and local groundwater, coupled with the fact that Onion Creek recharges 30% of Barton Springs, sits at the heart of the case against direct wastewater discharge in the Texas hill country. Despite the Barton Springs connection, the City of Austin was denied standing in the case.
A final hearing is expected to be held within the next six months. Based on this final hearing, TCEQ can then either grant or deny the permit, or change its terms.