Please take a few minutes to send an email to the City of Blanco City Council before next Tuesday asking them to call a “time out” on their pending permit application to increase the City’s authorized wastewater discharge to the Blanco River. The Blanco City Council is set to have a work session on its wastewater application next Tuesday, August 25, at 5:30 p.m.
Here are the key facts on this urgent and important issue.
Currently Blanco treats about 225,000 gallons per day of municipal sewage. Sometimes this treated sewage is discharged to the river just above the FM 165 bridge (aka the Henly cutoff). When this happens, nasty algae blooms take over the river downstream, under the 165 bridge and downstream. (If you have 34 minutes, watch this science report on what nutrient pollution from treated municipal sewage does to our Hill Country streams.)
Mostly, however, Blanco has irrigated its treated wastewater on pasture land, keeping its sewage out of the river. The City has applied for a state permit that would authorize it to discharge up to 1.6 million gallons of treated sewage every day into the river.
The Blanco River is a major source of Barton Springs flows during drought conditions; it supplies critical recharge flows to San Marcos Springs under higher flow conditions.
Save Our Springs Alliance has been working with the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and Protect Our Blanco to convince the City to abandon its expanded discharge permit proposal, to reduce its request to only that amount needed to serve near term development within Blanco, and to commit to a “no discharge” and “total reuse” future for its treated wastewater. The Blanco City Council has new membership and we are encouraged by their willingness to reconsider the City’s push for a river discharge permit.
Science News Flash -- In response to Blanco’s permit application, last year SOS commissioned a biological and nutrient study of the Blanco River at Blanco by Baylor University professor Dr. Ryan King. You can now watch Professor King’s presentation of his Blanco River research results here.
Professor King is the leading scientist researching the effects of nutrient pollution (from municipal sewage and agricultural runoff) on aquatic ecosystems in Texas. King’s 34 minute presentation on his Blanco River research is the best science primer on why we must keep treated sewage out of our crystal clear Hill Country streams.
It’s actually not a hard thing to do.
The most common method for managing municipal sewage in the Hill Country for decades has been to treat and then irrigate the wastewater on fields, golf courses, or other landscaped areas. It’s only been in recent years – when TCEQ and EPA have shown they don’t care what the law or science says about discharging treated sewage into our creeks and rivers – that developers and small cities have sought TCEQ approval to dump their sewage into our Hill Country streams.
SOS is committed to making the Clean Water Act and science matter, once again. (Make our rivers clean again!) We have appealed the TCEQ permit that approved the City of Dripping Springs discharging its sewage into Onion Creek to the courthouse. Now we are opposing the Blanco discharge proposal with the best science, law, policy, and collaborative advocacy that we can muster.
With your help we can convince the Blanco City Council that a “no discharge” future is the best for its residents, its river, and its ratepayers. Please send an email to the Blanco City Council, watch Professor King’s presentation, and, if you are able, send a tax-deductible donation to SOS Alliance today so that we can continue our work keeping treated sewage out of our rivers, springs, and aquifers.