The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a wastewater discharge permit to Dripping Springs on Wednesday, giving the city authority to expand its existing wastewater plant and discharge up to 822,500 gallons of effluent per day into Onion Creek. However, Dripping Springs has committed to beneficial reuse of the effluent in an effort to avoid polluting the aquifer, as Barton Springs environmentalists have long feared might happen.
Area landowners, the Save Barton Creek Association, a Hays County group called Protect Our Water, Save Our Springs Alliance, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, and the city of Austin all opposed the discharge at TCEQ. (TCEQ found the city of Austin not eligible to participate.) In the end, all of the groups except the SOS Alliance agreed to a settlement.
At the time, Clark Hancock, president of the SBCA board, said, “City scientists have noted that Onion Creek has proven interactions with local groundwater and wells and it supplies approximately a third of the flow at Barton Springs. A permit will still be issued, but if Dripping Springs stands by their commitments and the community continues to work together to protect our creeks and aquifers, we might be able to hand down to future generations a legacy we can be proud (of).”
Read more from Jo Clifton with the Austin Monitor here.