Water board: No discussion on discharge permit

By Moses Leos III

Citizens packed the Dripping Springs Water Supply Corporation meeting Monday to relay concerns about the possible effects on DSWSC wells if the city’s proposed discharge permit of treated effluent is approved.

The board, however, opted not to place an item on next month’s agenda to discuss the topic.

Area resident David Crowell was concerned that the board is ignoring recent findings from the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) that Onion Creek recharges the upper and middle Trinity Aquifer, which DSWSC wells draw from.

“By that coming up as a possibility by scientists and them ignoring that, I think they are going to be culpable if these wells get contaminated by ignoring the facts and even refusing to talk about it,” Crowell said.

Four people spoke at Monday’s meeting about their concerns over the city’s proposed permit to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The permit, which is part of the city’s plan to expand its wastewater treatment system, could discharge close to one million gallons of treated effluent into Walnut Springs, which is a tributary of Onion Creek.

Recently, BSEACD and the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) passed resolutions asking TCEQ to delay Dripping Springs’ permit to allow for further scientific study.

The resolutions came after a study showed recharge into the Trinity Aquifer by Onion Creek. It is unknown at this time, however, the extent of the recharge by Onion Creek into the aquifer. 

Richard Beggs, who lives in Howard Ranch, said the city’s discharge permit is problematic, based on the new scientific data and possible contamination with DSWSC drinking water and surface water from Onion Creek.

“I am really nervous. My family drinks this water,” Beggs said. “I will be asking the groundwater districts to not proceed on the permit until we know that water is going to be safe.”

Martha Anderson, a former teacher, said she was concerned about Dripping Springs ISD children. DSWSC supplies water to the schools.

She asked the board to “slow down a little” to look at data compiled by the BSEACD and the HTGCD.

“Take the time to protect the water and protect the children and the citizens of the community,” Anderson said. 

Mark Key, DSWSC board president, said he believed the issue has gotten “way politicized” and is a “political hot potato.”

“I don’t think it’s a scientific issue,” Key said. “All I can do is go off of what we talked with our engineers and our hydrologists that we’ve hired that have no agenda.”

Key said he hasn’t seen a failure in DSWSC wells or raised levels of bacteriological samples.  

“I don’t see the worry,” Key said. “I respect people’s opinions, but it’s only coming from one angle. Our only angle at (DSWSC) is our wells safe. That’s it. Not do we think if it’s a good or bad thing for Onion Creek or it’s going to pollute Onion Creek.”

Key said he disagreed with the BSEACD findings, saying that it was a “rushed” document.

“I guarantee, every bit of science they find in the future will say, ‘this [study]is horrible and bad, it’s sad,” Key said. “For every scientist they have at Barton Springs that says there is a problem, I will find one that says there is no problem.”

Resident Ashley Whittenberger said residents are asking entities for more time to conduct thorough studies.

“This is not some outlandish request by citizens to say, ‘hey, let’s look at science around this to make sure that if we’re going to discharge wastewater into this creek, it won’t end up into drinking water of the entire DSISD school district,’ which is a huge concern,” Whittenberger said. 

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