BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — “This should not be allowed,” one Bastrop neighbor wrote to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Kelly Greene’s written comment is one of dozens against an Elon Musk company’s wastewater permit application filed with the TCEQ.
The company, Gapped Bass LLC, is listed on the application as affiliated with The Boring Company and shares the same address.
It’s unclear what the Gapped Bass, as a separately named company, will do on the property.
They’re asking the agency to approve the discharge of up to 142,500 gallons of treated wastewater per day into the Colorado River, downstream from Austin’s Lady Bird Lake.
According to the agency’s website, that means industrial or human waste that has been cleaned to specific TCEQ standards.
“The Boring Company should NOT be able to dump treated wastewater into the Colorado River in Bastrop, Texas. The community uses that river for recreation, farmers and ranchers use that water to feed us. This should not be allowed,” Greene’s comment continued.
The TCEQ said it received the application on July 15, and its executive director is now conducting a technical review of the application.
“I live and farm in Bastrop on the Colorado River. This permit application should not be approved,” wrote another Bastrop neighbor, James Garbo, to the TCEQ. “There are livelihoods, quality of life for local residents and the water that people and animals depend on in this area that would be detrimentally affected by this action [if] allowed to transpire.”
The TCEQ said you can submit public comments or request a public meeting on this application. The TCEQ director will only hold a public meeting if he/she decides there’s a “significant degree of public interest” or “if requested by a local legislator,” according to the agency.
“I believe any commercial or residential participant/company should invest in processes that limit their waste, and to re-invest in our environment to keep it safe, healthy and bio-diverse,” wrote another neighbor named David Barrow. “I believe they must plan accordingly for any and all waste they create. I believe dumping anything in the Texas water ways is detrimental to our environment and a hazard to our crops, our animals and our recreational activities. Please do not allow this company to dump anything in the rivers.”
KXAN’s Tahera Rahman went to the Gapped Bass address at The Boring Company to ask why they’ll need to dump that water. A spokesperson declined to comment on this story or provide any contact information for anyone else at the company.
Gapped Bass’ affiliate, The Boring Company, is no stranger to complaints since moving onto the land.
In May, KXAN’s media partners at the Austin Business Journal reported the TCEQ was investigating three complaints into the company. The complaints against the drilling company were related to wastewater and concrete production.
The TCEQ confirms it has issued two violations to the company, including failure of the company to get a Texas Pollution Discharge Elimination System Construction General Permit.
Chap Ambrose, who lives next door to the company, said it’s not a good track record. It’s why he wants a third-party auditor to make sure Gapped Bass follows the permit rules, if the permit is granted.
“I think it’s time we need to stand up and provide some real transparency here,” he said. “If they want to dump that water, I want to know exactly every day what’s in it. I want to know exactly how much they’re pouring through.”
He said he’s a fan of Elon Musk. “He’s an interesting, innovative, you know, visionary,” Ambrose said. He’s even preordered a Tesla Cybertruck.
“He’s got that green aura around him with the electric cars and saving — and I love it,” he said. “But the reality is, the way they’re doing business here does not uphold those values.”
Ambrose said he just wants his neighbors to follow the rules just like everyone else.
“That’s not the world I live in, where the world’s richest men come and break the law and endanger citizens. And I’m not raising my kids to walk away like that,” he said.
He hopes he can get Musk’s attention, and his companies to correct their path.
“We don’t have to destroy what we got here. He could be doing this the right way,” Ambrose said.
Wastewater management in Austin
The City of Austin has a program in place for the management of industrial wastewater. The city’s website says that the program ensures local, state, and federal regulations are met regarding the quality of wastewater discharged into the city’s wastewater system.
Area businesses are required to install, operate, and adequately maintain pretreatment devices and/or systems to remove pollutants that would interfere with the wastewater treatment process.
There are many businesses in Austin that have permits for wastewater discharge, including multiple buildings that are part of the University of Texas-Austin.
Attached above is UT’s wastewater permit.