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Dripping Springs inches closer to controversial wastewater discharge permit

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — The city of Dripping Springs has reached another round of settlements with those opposed to the city obtaining a state permit that would allow treated wastewater to be discharged into Onion Creek.  

The city already reached a settlement with the Lower Colorado River Authority last October. Now, the city has reached an agreement with all but one of the organizations fighting the permit. The only group not to join the settlement is Save Our Springs. 

The terms of the recent settlement reduced the proposed discharge limit per day. The original proposed limit was 995,000 gallons per day, but it will now be 822,500 gallons per day.

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 will also establish a utility commission that will help hold leaders accountable.  

City leaders continue to say the goal is to reuse 100 percent of the treated water and not release any into local creeks, and say they already have contracts pending with customers who want the water.  

“Today, we have contracts between customers in town and then city facilities that will take right at 600,000 gallons a day of that treated effluent,” said Dripping Springs deputy city administrator Ginger Faught.

To put that into perspective, Dripping Springs currently only produces 80,000 gallons per day of effluent water, meaning they could grow for many years without ever discharging any water. 

Faught says the city can use the water in local parks, on city property and is in the process of talking with a number of golf courses.  

“We hope to become a model for other cities in our area through our reuse system,” said Faught.  

In a statement sent to KXAN, Save Our Springs says, “any permit or agreement that allows discharge of sewage into our Edwards Aquifer contributing to streams, both directly and indirectly, sets a terrible precedent and endangers the Hill Country streams, springs and aquifers that are the life support system for our entire region.”  

The organization says its also concerned about the city’s wastewater plant, claiming it’s not being operated properly, however, Faught says the city is up to standards and has no violations.  

Without a settlement from every organization, Faught says the project will likely be on hold for at least another year. 

"It will go back to TCEQ commissioners sometime in December or January. So, at that point we'll have the permit and we'll go into design and construction. So, it's still a couple years off," said Faught. "We hope to make a settlement with Save our Springs."


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