In Pursuit of Discharge Permit, City Reaches Settlement Agreement with All But One Interested Party
DRIPPING SPRINGS, TEXAS – July 6, 2018 – The City of Dripping Springs announced this week a major milestone in its effort to obtain a wastewater discharge permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) – it has reached a second settlement agreement. The first agreement was with the Lower Colorado River Authority in October of 2017. Now the City has reached a settlement with all but one of the designated interested parties that were granted party status in the permit proceeding. These parties range from environmental organizations, such as Save Barton Creek Association and Protect Our Water, to groundwater conservation districts, including Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, to area property owners. The only protestant not to join in the settlement is Save Our Springs.
Under the terms of the recent settlement, the City of Dripping Springs agreed to reduce its proposed discharge limit by more than 172,000 gallons per day (gpd), from the originally proposed limit of 995,000 gpd to 822,500 gpd. The City also agreed not to discharge any treated effluent into Walnut Springs or Onion Creek up to
399,000 gallons per day of the wastewater plant’s capacity. The City also committed to establishing a utility commission to work with the City on operations and the City’s plans to achieve 100% beneficial reuse.
“This is an exciting day for the City of Dripping Springs and is the result of many years’ worth of work, planning and analysis,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds. “We have a responsibility to address the current needs of our community as well as to proactively plan for future growth. We believe this agreement gives us the flexibility we need to operate our facility, and we hope it assures our community that we meant what we said from the start.”
The City has significant plans for beneficial reuse and has been committed to that goal since day one; it has never intended to discharge. Either a discharge permit or land application permit is required by TCEQ for the expansion of wastewater infrastructure. Given the limitations in the governing rules, the City decided to seek a discharge permit. However, the City was and remains focused on reuse as an alternative to discharge. The City has signed contracts with various developments in the area to accept close to 500,000 gallons per day of treated effluent. This, combined with plans to irrigate city-owned land, accounts for approximately 600,000 gallons per day, putting a significant dent into the new agreed-upon allowable maximum of 822,500 gallons per day. For context, the City now produces about 80,000 gallons per day. It is anticipated that the proposed expansion could accommodate the City for approximately the next decade.
“We said from the very outset that our plan was to maximize opportunities for beneficial reuse,” said Foulds. “My hope is that with the contracts we have in place, as well as our willingness to compromise through the settlement agreement process, demonstrates how serious we are about providing necessary services to our community while remaining sensitive to our environment.”
The City has been working on its expansion plans for more than six years and evaluated a variety of options to best meet the growing wastewater needs of the community.
“When I was elected to City Council in May 2017, I was incredibly concerned about the City’s plans for a discharge permit. It was one of the key issues I focused on during my campaign and in my early months in office. I was skeptical,” said Dripping Springs City Council Member Taline Manassian. “But after really digging in, I was quickly comforted by the amount of work, technical analysis and thoughtful deliberation that had gone into this plan. We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our community’s quality of life and resources.”