Scenic gem seen as under threat by wastewater pipeline

A proposed wastewater pipeline would make its way through Berry Springs Park & Preserve in Georgetown, pictured. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
A proposed wastewater pipeline would make its way through Berry Springs Park & Preserve in Georgetown, pictured. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Those who go to Berry Springs Park and Preserve off Interstate 35 say it’s their “happy place” with a peaceful atmosphere.

With a spring-fed pond, the park offers places to walk and run.

Some are worried their scenic gem will be threatened by a wastewater pipeline. “There could be any leak that could damage the springs which flow through here, which pump out a million gallons of fresh water a day,” says John Drummond, who is part of the Save Berry Springs Park and Preserve movement.

The pipeline could run 7-9 miles and vary in size to upwards of 42 inches and 25-feet deep in some spots. The proposed location is a joint decision between the county, the city and Trio Development, which is building a new housing tract.

Trio Development says they are currently studying the park, but it’s not their only option. They say it could take another six months before they pick a permanent place for the pipeline.

The city of Georgetown says the pipeline location has been a part of their master plan for nearly 30 years, as they anticipated growth. They currently have similar pipes that run throughout the city, including the San Gabriel River.

“There are better routes to do this,” says Drummond. “They already have easements along State Highway 130 where it wouldn’t even impact the park, and I feel like it’s a sacrifice of natural beauty and natural resources to cheap development.”

The city argues the preserve route is the safest because it allows gravity to pull the water along, rather than requiring mechanical pumping, which is more likely to cause a leak. “We investigated options and we weigh those relative to the opportunity of failure or the risk of possible malfunction,” explains Jim Briggs, general manager of utilities for Georgetown.

Ultimately, it’s up to county commissioners to decide whether to allow the pipeline in the preserve. Since the developer is still surveying the preserve, the county has not yet received a proposal to vote on the pipeline.

The city says they inspect their pipes with cameras every five years, to help catch any problems.

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