Marina owner accused of dumping human waste into Lake Travis

Travis County

LAKE TRAVIS (KXAN) — The Lower Colorado River Authority Public Safety Department charged a Lake Travis marina owner with dumping waste, including used toilet paper and feces into Lake Travis using an old pipe coming from the marina’s bathroom.

Authorities say the illegal dumping may have been happening for weeks. The LCRA learned of the issue through an anonymous tip.

Paul Carlton Coburn, 51, faces a third-degree felony for the unauthorized discharge of waste. Coburn is a co-owner and manager of Commander Point Marina, according to the arrest affidavit.

“I observed water, fluorescent dye, used toilet paper, and feces dumping into Lake Travis from an old pipe.”

LCRA officer Jesse Strength

Officers say after receiving the tip, an LCRA officer showed up to inspect the marina and that’s when the officer says they saw the waste and toilet paper coming out of the pipe and into Lake Travis. They say Coburn knew exactly what was happening.

“I then asked Coburn if he had used the toilet [April 23], and he stated yes,” LCRA Officer Jesse Strength wrote in the affidavit. “Coburn stated he was aware the sewage line was not connected to a tank. Coburn stated he was aware the pipe of the sewage line was cut for approximately three to four weeks.”

“Let’s be clear: this is unacceptable,” said LCRA Executive Vice President of Water John Hofmann.

LCRA testing water supply, says water is safe to drink

According to the LCRA, a dye test and seven water quality tests were done immediately in the area after Public Safety Rangers found evidence of the waste.

“Anytime you have a report of something like this in a water source for a million people, you take it seriously,” Hoffman said.

The LCRA says none of the water quality tests revealed harmful amounts of bacteria in the water.

Nearby water intakes are also tested regularly to make sure no harmful levels of bacteria are entering our drinking water supply.

According to one man who utilizes the dock, people were swimming in the cove where the marina is situated over the weekend. Mansfield Dam, a popular area for swimming and water recreation is also nearby.

“This comes as a big surprise especially having been here so many times in the last couple of weeks,” said marina client Roger Huth. “I never noticed anything. No smells, no dirty water.”

LCRA Public Safety Rangers say Coburn lives at the marina on a boat. KXAN has tried to determine which attorney is representing Coburn and reach out for comment but so far we have not been successful. We will update this story once we get a comment.

Coburn was booked into the Travis County Jail on Friday but has since posted bond and been released.

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