Dripping Springs residents upset over treated sewage dumping in Onion Creek

Neighbors push against city to allow treated wastewater in creek (KXAN Photo)
Neighbors push against city to allow treated wastewater in Onion Creek in Dripping Springs, on July 7, 2016 (KXAN Photo)

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Treated sewage is being dumped into the Onion Creek Central Texas waterway as the area works to keep up with the all the people moving to Hays County.

The tributary begins on the Blanco/Hays county line and snakes its way to the Colorado River in Austin. Along the way water flows into Barton Creek and then Barton Springs in Austin.

But it is in Dripping Springs where there battle is taking place. Passing south of town, the city has filed a state permit to dump “treated” wastewater into Onion Creek.

Neighbors push against city to allow treated wastewater in creek (KXAN Photo)
Neighbors push against city to allow treated wastewater in Onion Creek in Dripping Springs (KXAN Photo)

The Dripping Springs City Council says the permit is “financially responsible” and that it allows the city to use waste-water as a “commodity.” However, Central Texans living in the path of the possible discharge say it would negatively affect the environment and the public’s access to clean safe water.

More than 300 people showed up to voice their opposition to the permit plan pleading with stake-holders to consider another option. Community members say a lot of their concern comes down to a fear of the unknown. They say officials don’t realize how dumping waste-water along and into Onion Creek could impact the water supply and quality for people in the area.

Linda Thomas, opposed to discharge permit. “I wouldn’t cook with it… I definitely wouldn’t drink it. I wouldn’t wash dishes with it, you know. It would totally change our whole way of life,” said Thomas.

David Galindo, Director of Water Quality Division, said “The permit has to meet criteria which we call Texas service water quality standards. And those are criteria for various pollutants that are designed to protect human health and aquatic life within the stream.”

Representatives of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality addressed the public’s health concerns, saying the permit has safe-guards in place.

The question now is how they plans to monitor those pollutants and how often. TCEQ said it depends on the flow of the water.

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