On Wednesday, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) decided who can challenge a controversial plan would allow Dripping Springs to dump nearly a million gallons of treated sewage a day into Onion Creek, a major source of water for the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs. TCEQ commissioners will allow Save Our Springs Alliance,  Save Barton Creek Association, Protect Our Water, and several individual landowners to participate in a "contested case hearing" on whether to grant Dripping Springs the permit. The commissioners also decided that the City of Austin could proceed to the hearing for a determination of its affected status.

A state administrative law judge will hear arguments for and against the proposed sewage permit, and issue a recommendation to the TCEQ commissioners, who will make the decision on whether to grant the permit and if so, the permit's terms. The hearing process is to be completed within six months of the initial hearing.

Environmental groups, well users, and downstream property owners have many concerns about the plan, including pollution of groundwater that would adversely affect drinking water, recreation, and habitat for aquatic species. Earlier this year, a dye trace study revealed that Onion Creek supplies water to domestic wells in the Dripping Springs area, and a report was recently published documenting the presence of Barton Springs Salamanders in Onion Creek.

To show your support for a ban on discharging wastewater into creeks that recharge Barton Springs, sign the petition at