SOURCE: Driftwood Historical Conservation Society

Influence Opinions

October 15, 2015 17:12 ET

Driftwood Historical Conservation Society Responds to Editorial From Dripping Springs Mayor Todd Purcell

DRIFTWOOD, TX--(Marketwired - October 15, 2015) - An editorial from Dripping Springs Mayor Todd Purcell was recently published titled "Dripping Springs has no intention of harming Onion Creek." Driftwood Historical Conservation Society (DHCS) appreciates Mayor Purcell's efforts to communicate with the public but respectfully disagrees with several points in the piece. DHCS urges the City of Dripping Springs to halt its effort to seek a permit to dump wastewater into Onion Creek and instead pursue an option that will preserve the pristine creek.

"DHCS fully understands that the area's explosive growth poses tremendous infrastructure challenges, but our members also know that the creek's natural beauty and environmental health is a vital asset to this community," said Casey Cutler, the society's director of public policy. "We urge Dripping Springs Mayor Todd Purcell and the City Council to seek a responsible alternative to the discharge permit. Dumping treated wastewater into Onion Creek is not the right solution."

The City of Dripping Springs maintains that TCEQ rules require that it take action now, and that the wastewater discharge permit is essentially its only option, but there are viable options, such as expanded reuse of the treated wastewater, that need to be explored.

Recently, staff members from the cities of Austin and Dripping Springs as well as other Hill Country communities attended the second regional wastewater planning symposium, where the parties discussed an important draft rule change at TCEQ regarding land application permits. This change would effectively mean that Dripping Springs would not be required to have a discharge permit.

The goal is to have a decision on this proposed change by TCEQ by January 2016. Continuing to pursue the discharge permit would take at least a year for the process to be completed, meaning that waiting for the rule change is the more expedient option for Dripping Springs -- and for preserving Onion Creek.

"DHCS respectfully asks Mayor Purcell and the City of Dripping Springs to choose this more reasoned option -- and spend the time, money and energy on obtaining the storage capacity necessary to retain the wastewater for beneficial reuse in the Dripping Springs area," said Cutler. "This is a responsible, reasonable solution to this issue. It is also one that will mean our cherished Onion Creek will be preserved for generations to come."

Mayor Purcell maintains that discharging treated wastewater into Onion Creek would not harm it environmentally, but there has been no scientific evidence submitted to support this claim. The proposed treatment process would not necessarily remove the nitrates and phosphates that cause algae bloom and moss growth, which could impact 11 miles of the creek.

In fact, Dripping Springs' proposed discharge would not be allowed to be dumped in the Highland Lakes. Onion Creek is no less sensitive to environmental damage posed by the wastewater.

The scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that our creeks don't have the assimilative capacity to deal with nutrients even in highly treated wastewater effluent. Other creeks that have been subject to this same type of permit have been negatively impacted by the discharge. Additionally, other communities facing similar wastewater disposal challenges have made different choices, including Lago Vista, Lakeway and Buda.

Dripping Springs officials also say it will cost too much to have a system that relies entirely on reuse, but Mayor Purcell has not revealed the actual cost differences between reuse and dumping wastewater into Onion Creek.

"We want to work with local leaders in finding the right path forward on this important issue. There are too many important questions that have not been answered. There are viable options that have not been given the proper consideration. We respectfully ask the City of Dripping Springs to take the time to fully explore the alternatives, ones that will save Onion Creek," said Cutler. "This is our home and the creek is part of our collective DNA. We can't imagine living anywhere else, and we can't imagine Dripping Springs without its unspoiled Onion Creek."

About the Driftwood Historical Conservation Society

The Driftwood Historical Conservation Society is a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of historic Driftwood. The organization meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Driftwood Community Center and is actively looking for new members. For more information, please visit http://driftwoodhcs.com.

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