TCEQ investigating residents' dust complaints against Lake Travis ISD school under construction

The TCEQ launched an investigation Aug. 14 into complaints of invasive dust coming from a school under construction.

The TCEQ launched an investigation Aug. 14 into complaints of invasive dust coming from a school under construction.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has launched an investigation into the quality of air surrounding the construction site of Lake Travis ISD’s Elementary School No. 7 on Bee Creek Road, which is scheduled to be complete in time for the 2020-21 school year.

The investigation, which began Aug. 14, stemmed from adjacent residents’ complaints regarding dust leaving the construction site.

The TCEQ has received four formal complaints to date, according to Media Relations Specialist Brian McGovern, who added Investigators generally have 60 days to file a report in order to determine if a violation has occurred.

If the investigation reveals any violations, the TCEQ will take appropriate action, which could include issuing a fine, enforcing an order to correct the violation or filing a lawsuit, McGovern said.

Crosswind Drive resident Janelle Marcy, whose property borders the construction site, said the dust caused by drilling is being propelled into her yard and coating her entire property.

“Every square inch of my yard, home, structures, grass, trees, pets and vehicles are covered in thick, white, chalky dust daily,” Marcy said. “Clouds of dust float over my yard all day long.”

Marcy said the dust increased last week due to the drilling of 300-foot-deep geothermal air conditioning holes that are needed to provide a cooling system for the facility.

Marcy also said the dust and silt have created health issues for her and her neighbors. Her doctor prescribed her steroids and is currently monitoring her for the possible development of pneumonia, she said.

Lake Travis ISD Director of Communications Marco Alvarado said drilling of the geothermal air conditioning holes is nearly finished, and residents should expect to see less dust as construction moves forward.

“I understand the majority of the work that has caused the dust is now complete, and [construction] is moving on to a different phase that should not be as disruptive,” Alvarado said.

Marcy said the Crosswind Home Owners Association has made a request to LTISD for water trucks and tarps to potentially limit the dust, but representatives of the CHOA have declined to comment at this time.

LTISD is taking extra measures to alleviate the dust and address residents’ concerns, according to Robert Winovitch, director of facilities and construction for the district.

Plans are set to install what is called a flex base oil treatment that will help make the ground more compact and have the biggest impact in reducing the dust caused by construction-related traffic exiting the site, Alvarado said.

Information from LTISD also states crews plan to continue routinely spraying the spoils created by the drilling and rock sawing at the construction site in order to diminish the dust and silt leaving the area.

“We’re battling mother nature. It’s been a very dry summer, and that certainly doesn’t help our cause,” Alvarado said, adding LTISD and the contractor, Barlett-Cocke, are going to be as responsive as possible to resident concerns.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


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