Negotiations continued after an executive session during Thursday’s Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) meeting on Dripping Springs’ request to discharge treated effluent into the Onion Creek Watershed.
The BSEACD reviewed with its attorney the draft settlement prepared by the city of Austin in response to the city of Drippings Springs’ permit application to discharge treated wastewater into Onion Creek.
While the district and other entities review these documents, it is generally thought that most of the entities are waiting until the Texas Legislature closes, due to the number of bills about water and water management working their way through committee hearings and onto the floor.
Dripping Springs’ water district board of directors reviewed with their attorney activities related to the 85th Legislative session in executive session as well Thursday night.
One bill, HB 2424 by Donna Howard, is of particular interest to BSEACD, as it further defines the territory over which the BSEACD will have power.
The bill would put more of Onion Creek under the direction of BSEACD, and with Dripping Springs requesting to discharge treated wastewater into the creek, residents down creek from Dripping have shown concern about the possibility that there could be problems in the future.
And, with Onion Creek being a feeder into Austin’s famous Barton Springs, the city of Austin leaders have also gotten involved with Drippings’ request.
Dripping Springs’ permit asks for permission to discharge a volume not to exceed 995,000 per day to the Onion Creek watershed. The city put in its application to TCEQ in 2015. In 2016, TCEQ issued a draft permit authorizing Dripping to discharge treated effluent into Walnut Springs, which feeds into Onion Creek as a result of the discharge.
Environmentalists have expressed concern about the possibility of algae formation in Onion Creek.
Developers and other landowners around Dripping Springs have countered that the city plans to mainly – almost exclusively according to city officials – use its treated wastewater in surrounding developments for beneficial reuse.
The city of Austin is pushing Dripping Springs to maximize its effluent reuse and the city of Dripping Springs has already set up contracts with developments within the city and in Driftwood to use the treated wastewater.