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EPA Objects To Dripping Springs Draft Permit

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

DRIPPING SPRINGS, TX December 12, 2016 - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is objecting to the City of Dripping Springs’ Draft Permit for direct discharge of wastewater into Onion Creek. EPA objects to the 995,000 gallons per day discharge because the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) inadequately analyzed the Draft Permit and the pollution is not justified. 

Protect Our Water (POW) petitioned EPA to review Dripping Springs’ Draft Permit because TCEQ did not comply with laws designed to protect high quality streams like Onion Creek from excessive algae growth and degradation.

TCEQ is responsible for wastewater discharge permits in Texas, but EPA retains authority to object to TCEQ’s issuance of those permits when TCEQ is not complying with federal laws. This is a rare move for EPA and signifies real problems with the Draft Permit. The TCEQ and Dripping Springs must now justify the Draft Permit to EPA. In November, over 300 citizens attended a public meeting on the proposed wastewater discharge, with almost all in opposition. POW and EPA’s concerns with the pollution of Onion Creek would be addressed with a legally binding no-discharge plan from the City of Dripping Springs.

Some quotes of the EPA Objection Letter written by Richard Wooster, acting Associate Director for NPDES Permit and TMDLs Branch include the following:

“[I]t is not clear how this permit conforms to the guidelines and requirements established by the Clean Water Act” 

“there is a concern that (wastewater) effluent… would contribute more than 450 pounds of phosphorus (P) per year in a stream with a(n) … annual load of approximately 1 pound (per year) …proposed increase of total nitrogen (N) would be even more significant.”  EPA requests additional information from TCEQ and Dripping Springs on how this much pollution would not “negatively impact” Onion Creek.

“EPA cannot discern from the information provided what factors TCEQ considered in its determination of no significant degradation and whether the state’s analysis complied with TCEQ’s antidegradation policy and implementation procedures for Tier 2 review” 

“Tier 1 antidegradation requirements state that surface waters must be maintained in an aesthetically attractive condition, and require that waste discharges not cause substantial and persistent changes from ambient conditions of turbidity or color…. Please provide (EPA) appropriate information showing the draft permit will (not)…violate Tier 1 antidegradation requirements.”

About POW

Protect Our Water is a citizen’s group organized to protect Onion Creek and local wells from pollution. For more information please contact: Stuart Henry, Attorney for POW, 512-858-0385, stuartnhenry@gmail.com or Richard Beggs, POW Director, 512 299 -3442, richardobeggs@hotmail.com.

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