Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story indicated Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment East Plant was responsible for a fish kill in March. It was the fault of an unrelated contractor.
ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — One-hundred thousand gallons of sewage spilled into a Williamson County creek, wiping out several thousand fish from the ecosystem.
The TCEQ is looking into what happened.
KXAN found out the facility responsible has a history of violations.
“Every single fish is dead. All of the them. Perch. Catfish,” said Kristen McMillan, in a video she posted to Facebook. “They are all coming from upstream, dead.”
It was a shocking sight at a typically pleasant watering hole.
“It was pretty much just devastation everywhere. There was not one single living thing in the water at all,” McMillan said. She likes to take her kids to Brushy Creek to search for fossils.
“It gave me goosebumps. It gave me chills. The amount of death that was everywhere was mind-blowing,” McMillan said.
The cause of the massive fish kill: A raw sewage overflow from a nearby wastewater treatment plant. Professional biologists were out all Tuesday testing the water and trying to find out how much wildlife was instantly killed.
Texas Parks and Wildlife said it was Monday’s storms that knocked out power at the wastewater treatment plant. Now several thousand game and non-game fish have been wiped out from Brushy Creek.
“Wastewater treatment plants can fail, spills do happen, so if something looks out of the ordinary, give us a call,” said Travis Tidwell, a pollution biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife.
KXAN obtained documents which show the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment East Plant has had a history of problems. Since 2013, TCEQ has written 18 violations to the facility which serves Austin, Cedar Park and Round Rock. Round Rock took over the facility in October 2018. They say they were unaware of the previous violations and are now looking into those.
There was also a “fish-kill” in March, but the plant was not responsible for it. The city says Parks and Wildlife fined a contractor after that contractor did work on a pipe incorrectly, which caused a sewage spill. That work was not for the plant.
People downstream say they just want some accountability.
“They need extra safety matters to make sure this doesn’t happen. Because its unnacceptable. This should not have happened,” McMillan said.
The city of Round Rock is one of the operators of the wastewater treatment plant. It says the spill was caused by a power outage Sunday. And it has not affected the public drinking water supply.
However, if you have your own private well within a half-mile of the spill site, Round Rock officials say you should boil your water. Also, families should avoid swimming in Brushy Creek.
Residents who have questions about the spill should contact the Utilities and Environmental Services Department at 512-844-9225City of Round Rock
Liberty Hill Spill
Last month, KXAN revealed Liberty Hill was cited for spilling chlorine and sewage into the San Gabriel River.
The river is popular with a lot of families and feeds into Georgetown’s Blue Hole Park.
TCEQ said the Liberty Hill Wastewater Treatment Plant allowed raw sewage to pile up along the river beds.
In one spot, the sewage was 18 inches deep and contained blood worms.
Since then, Liberty Hill leaders say they’ve made changes to try to prevent it from happening again, including having someone check daily for problems.