The City of Dripping Springs Wants to Discharge Treated Sewage into Pristine Onion Creek.
The City of Dripping Springs has applied for a direct discharge wastewater permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to dump treated sewage into Onion Creek — a staggering 995,000 gallons per day. This unprecedented measure would threaten the city’s drinking water and cause algae blooms that kill off wildlife from Dripping Springs to Austin. Onion Creek provides 40% of Barton Springs’ flow! For additional information hear from speakers at our October 2016 #NoDrippingSewage Rally.
Thank you very much for your involvement so far. Many of you have written to TCEQ and your City Council members. Many attended our October 2016 rally or the November 10th, 2016 Public Meeting. More recently, you may have joined us at Austin City Council in December 2017 to tell them not to agree to a bad settlement.
We still have more to do. Please continue working with us to fight this bad proposal and others by joining our No Dripping Sewage Campaign.
- The TCEQ Executive Director has decided that the permit to discharge wastewater into Onion Creek meets legal requirements. The “Response to Comment” has been published and is available here. SBCA and others requested a contested case hearing and are waiting to hear if we will be given standing to be a party to this next legal step against the permit.
- Several of our members spoke against the plan at an Austin City Council meeting (Item 29) last month where City staff presented a very weak settlement option between the City of Austin and Dripping Springs. Thankfully, after hearing the concerns of environmental groups and citizens, the council voted to reject the settlement agreement! Read details about the meeting here.
- Dripping Springs City Council elections on May 6 saw the election of two new members. We are hopeful that these new voices will change the dialogue toward a no-discharge solution.
- Discharge ban bills died in the Texas legislature and will not become law this session.
- The protestant parties (Austin, LCRA, BSEACD, POW, SOS Alliance, and other landowners) are still working on a draft settlement agreement.
- No response has been issued from TCEQ to EPA; the permit is still on hold at EPA.
- Working with Protect Our Water, engineer Lauren Ross, produced a water balance analysis that showed Dripping Springs could accomplish 100% beneficial reuse of wastewater effluent (no discharge) by providing 700 acres for irrigation and 39 million gallons of storage.
SBCA and five other organizations sent a March 6th Letter to Austin City Council Members asking them to withdraw from a bad settlement proposal and continue negotiations with a goal of no discharge. Read the press release and February letter to Austin City Council here.
We also found out that US Fish and Wildlife also recommends a no discharge option due to effects on endangered species. Read the press release here.
The City of Austin is closer to settling with Dripping Springs. Read more here.
The EPA objected to TCEQ’s draft permit. We are waiting to hear what TCEQ’s response will be. Read more here.
SBCA and five other organizations sent a letter to Austin City Council Members asking them not to settle with Dripping Springs unless the result was no direct discharge. Read the letter here.
You can get involved by joining our No Dripping Sewage Campaign here.
Many of you wrote to TCEQ and your City Council Members in the fall. We asking for your help again. Please write to your Austin City Council Members again!
Find your council member here. You may wish to use the message below:
Council Member _______,
I am writing to you because I am very concerned about the recently circulated settlement proposal between City of Austin and City of Dripping Springs regarding Dripping Springs’ direct discharge wastewater permit. There is no reason to rush into a bad settlement that would jeopardize the aquifer and Barton Springs.
Please direct City of Austin staff to withdraw the settlement proposal and continue negotiations with a goal of no direct discharge. I also ask that you insist upon a public hearing prior to any action.
Michele Rene WestonDripping Springs, TX
We moved out here for the beauty and respect of nature. We swim in the rivers and fish in the lakes in our neighborhood. The fresh, clean spring-fed waters out here are treasured by my family. I think that the rest of the community out here feels the same way, which is why we all live out here. Protecting this piece of the Texas Hill Country ecosystem is a core value of our whole community. Do not compromise this. My children also highly value this area and we swim and hike around there often, and my kids go canoeing and kayaking there. My son is also a biology nut who treasures the endangered species of salamanders that this water system is home to. Don’t pollute this unique ecosystem. Don’t ruin it for my children and cause these species to go extinct.
Andrew HarrodAustin, TX
I grew up fishing Onion Creek and still do from time to time. 40% of the water that flows into Barton Springs comes from this creek. There are already algal blooms that happen in this creek due to urban runoff, let’s not contribute to any more!
Tricia EmbryAustin, TX
The proposed plan not only craps up our treasured Onion Creek, but has the very real potential to damage the aquifer all the way down to Barton Springs. Our environment is a big part of what makes the Hill Country such a special place. I don’t want the city taking that away from us just to save a few bucks.
Karen KocherAustin, TX
We have an obligation to future generations to preserve our natural resources. The plan to dumped nitrogen and phosphate rich water into Onion Creek is short-sighted and ultimately not in our best interest.
Greg WatsonSan Marcos, TX
Texas waterways are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and dumping waste into a creek is wrong on so many levels. Nobody wants to cool off in wastewater!
Stephen BeersCo-President / Save Barton Creek Association
Sewage plant operators favor creek dumping because it’s the simplest, most flexible way to (not) deal with waste. Considered narrowly, it’s also the “cheapest” option. However, such an approach blithely ignores damage and risks to our streams, aquifers, wells, and springs.
In the News
Bill Would Stop Austin from Protesting Pollution March 8, 2017, Austin Monitor