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SOS wins; Judge reverses permit that allowed Dripping Springs to discharge into Onion Creek

Today, Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble struck down a state permit authorizing the City of Dripping Springs to discharge over 800,000 gallons per day of treated sewage into Onion Creek, a prestine water body that is a recharge source for Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer. The ruling was made in response to an appeal filed by the Save Our Springs Alliance.

After the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved Dripping Springs’ requested permit, the SOS Alliance took immediate action. We filed suit challenging the approved permit based on violations of the Clean Water Act. Our suit centered around three separate points: (1) that the proposed discharge would violate the Act’s anti-degradation rule, which is intended to protect high-quality streams, such as Onion Creek; (2) that the proposed discharge would harm existing aquatic life; and (3) that the public notices of the proposed discharge point were woefully inadequate.

We are pleased to report that Judge Guerra Gamble agreed with the SOS Alliance on all three points! To read Judge Guerra Gamble’s decision, visit here. To read the brief we filed, visit here.

“This ruling should put an end to any new discharges in Texas Hill Country springs,” said Save Our Springs Alliance Executive Director Bill Bunch.
The decision today will likely impact several pending permit applications to discharge treated sewage into other Hill Country waterways. It’s an important step towards preventing Hill Country streams from being used to flush sewage downstream, which ultimately contaminates groundwater wells and endangered species habitat, including Barton Springs.

To help us continue the fight to protect our Hill County streams, please consider making a contribution to our efforts: donate here.
To learn more about how treated sewage affects our Hill Country streams, check out this video from this year’s Barton Springs University Day. More educational videos available at

Learn more from Save Our Springs Alliance here.