Statement from Mayor Purcell on the Preliminary Dye Trace Study Results

The Hays Trinity Ground Water Conservation District recently provided the Onion Creek Preliminary Dye Trace Study Results to the City of Dripping Springs. Because the City was not asked to participate in the study, we do not have any more information at this time than what was provided to the press. However, our groundwater experts and staff are scheduled to meet with representatives of the District this week in an effort to get more information. The City Council has always been and remains committed to protecting the water supply, including our drinking water.

The Preliminary Dye Trace Results appear to indicate that there is a connection between some wells in the area and water in Onion Creek. The public water supply wells do not appear to be affected. The information we have is that three private wells have shown traces of dye from the study. If these results are accurate, this is of concern to me as these wells are being impacted TODAY by the water in Onion Creek. My family has property on Onion Creek. My parents drink from a well located on that property. I am familiar with the creek and would not drink that water, so I have great concern about the three wells and any others that may be being impacted by the creek today. Keep in mind, runoff water goes into the creek, and that runoff water contains pesticides, petroleum products, fertilizers and animal waste. If there is a direct connection, I am concerned that those wells are not safe as they are currently being used. I am interested, and the Council is too, in better understanding the Preliminary Dye Trace Results and figuring out what actions we may need to take in response.

As the public begins to see more information on this study, I want to point out the difference between CONNECTIVITY between the Creek and groundwater or wells and IMPACT on the groundwater and wells These are two separate and distinct issues when it comes to the subject of the City’s pending wastewater discharge permit. Even if this study ends up definitively showing connectivity, we have no information that would suggest that any discharge of wastewater effluent would negatively affect wells or water that is currently suitable for drinking. What I can say is that, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s response to comments, our draft permit includes some of the most stringent effluent limits of any discharge permit in the State of Texas and the level of surface water protection specified in the permit will ensure protection of groundwater quality. If the TCEQ reaches a different conclusion based on this study, we will address any new conclusions as they come.

Additionally, and this is the piece that opponents of the discharge permit often omit, the City does not plan to discharge. We are seeking a discharge permit for the purpose of beneficial reuse. Between our irrigation land and reuse agreements, we have 600,000 gallons of the 995,000 gallons per day permit accounted for, and there is already reuse demand for the remaining 395,000 gallons per day. In fact, the City Council approved an Ordinance in 2016 that requires developments to incorporate beneficial reuse or contribute funds to wastewater management reuse strategies. As of today, we have over 12,000,000 gallons of storage. Think about that number. At current treated effluent flows of 80,000 gallons per day, that is at least 150 days of storage. I know that I speak for the Council when I say that we feel confident that we will not need to discharge into Onion Creek, certainly not anytime soon, and that we are committed to achieving 100% reuse, as we have been from the time we filed our permit application.

I feel that the wastewater management plan we are pursuing will be a model for cities across the state and nation. We anticipate using every drop of treated effluent that is produced in areas that need water, including recreation fields, open spaces and landscaped medians. These areas would otherwise be using treated surface water or groundwater as their water source.

This Council is planning for our growth in the most environmentally sensitive manner as possible. We are continuing to meet with those who are concerned about our permit and are making every effort to reach agreements that serve this community and the water supply.

— Mayor Todd Purcell, City of Dripping Springs

Mayor Todd Purcell


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