Comment Period Extended to May 20th on Permit to Discharge Treated Sewage into a Barton Creek Tributary
It’s not too late to submit comments on the draft discharge permit that would allow a private developer to discharge up to 45,000 gallons per day into the Long Branch tributary of Barton Creek.
The comment period has been extended until May 20th at 5 pm.
TCEQ has received over 700 comments so far, all opposing the draft permit. Let’s keep the pressure up! If you haven’t submitted comments yet, see our talking points for inspiration.
And thank you to everyone who has already submitted comments!
To submit a written comment to TCEQ: Go to this online link: https://www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/, and enter permit number: WQ0015594001.
And thank you to those who attended Tuesday’s virtual public meeting on the draft permit, at which citizens were able to ask questions of the applicant and TCEQ staff. About 60 people participated, and 25 gave formal public comment. The comments were inspiring, informative, and united in their OPPOSITION to this draft permit.
Joining Save Our Springs in opposing the draft permit are the Cities of Austin and Dripping Springs, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Lower Colorado River Authority, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, Save Barton Creek Association, Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, the Polo Club Neighborhood Association, Travis County Commissioner Ann Howard, and ~700 citizens who have submitted public comment.
Suggested Talking Points:
I oppose the draft permit (No. WQ0015594001) that would allow wastewater discharge into Long Branch Tributary of Barton Creek and urge TCEQ to deny this permit.
The proposed discharge would convert Long Branch, a clear, swimmable creek, into a wastewater-dominated conduit of pollution into Barton Creek.
The health of recreational users of Long Branch and Barton Creek could be threatened by elevated bacteria, algal blooms, and pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
The effluent threatens the sensitive aquatic species that have adapted to high-quality waters, including the federally endangered Barton Springs Salamander and Austin Blind Salamander.
The proposed discharge will degrade the water quality of our two major aquifers, the Edwards and the Trinity and thousands of well-owners and residents who rely on them for their drinking water.
TCEQ failed to model or analyze the effects of the proposed discharge on the receiving creeks, repeating the same mistakes that a Travis County District Court found unlawful in last year’s decision overturning the Dripping Springs discharge permit into Onion Creek.
Please Attend: Community Meeting to Stop Concrete Batch Plant in Oak Hill
On Saturday, April 17th at 10:30am, Rep. Vikki Goodwin will be hosting a community meeting to discuss TxDOT's plan to build a concrete batch plant at the ACC Pinnacle Campus in Southwest Austin. This concrete batch plant would provide concrete for TxDOT’s planned 12-lane mega-highway expansion of the SH 71 and US 290 intersection, through the heart of Oak Hill.
Despite drastically changed community patterns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and two ongoing lawsuits from environmental stakeholders, TxDOT is forging ahead with the highway expansion project and is set to begin construction this year.
Adding injury to injury, in early March, news broke that a TxDOT contractor, Colorado River Constructors, intends to build a concrete batch plant on the ACC Pinnacle Campus. News of the concrete batch plant location came as a shock to community leaders, as the Austin Community College Board of Trustees approved the negotiations and execution of a five-year lease with the TxDOT contractor, with no mention of the concrete batch plant on their agenda or in the related backup materials.
Because this site is immediately adjacent to several homes and apartments, neighbors of the facility have expressed concerns about the human health consequences of living with such a close proximity to a batch plant (such as respiratory diseases and certain cancers).
Help Needed from Austin City Council
On Thursday, April 8th, representatives of the Save Our Springs Alliance, Save Barton Creek Association, and Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods went to the Austin City Council to request help and intervention. On their agenda, the Austin City Council was being asked to consider the initiation of three eminent domain cases to move utilities to make way for the highway expansion. SOS and others asked that the Austin City Council deny or otherwise postpone these items until TxDOT finds a suitable alternative location for the concrete batch plant.
Unfortunately, the Austin City Council narrowly passed those items on a 6-3-2 vote. The Save Our Springs Alliance thanks Council Members Leslie Pool, Kathie Tovo, MacKenzie Kelly, Greg Casar, and Ann Kitchen for opposing or abstaining from their approval.
That said, the fight isn't over.
The Save Our Springs Alliance and Save Barton Creek Association are continuing to pursue their lawsuits related to TxDOT's failure to comply with federal environmental requirements. And, we will continue to demand that the City of Austin enforce its zoning and environmental regulations on the ACC Pinnacle Campus, which might prevent that site from being used for this noxious, industrial use.
In the meantime, we encourage our members to reach out to their elected leaders requesting that the fight for an alternative location for the concrete batch plant and demand that TxDOT adjust the design of the highway to scale back the environmental damage associated with the highway project