UPDATED: Gilleland Creek full of dead fish following mechanical pump failure

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UPDATED: 11:28 a.m., Aug. 21

A yet-to-be-determined number of fish are dead in Gilleland Creek following an Aug.19 SouthWest Water Company spill, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality confirmed Aug. 20.

“TCEQ currently has an open investigation into the Gilleland Creek spill,” said Andrew Keese, spokesperson for TCEQ, in an email. “At this time, the amount of discharge is not known.”

City of Pflugerville spokesperson Terri Toledo confirmed the presence of a spill in a phone call with Community Impact Newspaper Tuesday afternoon, adding that SouthWest Water Company and TCEQ are currently handling the cleanup.

On Aug. 21, Toledo added that the spill was a leak from the Windermere Wastewater Facility that caused the fish kill in Gilleland Creek.

“As a result, the City recommends staying clear of the Gilleland Creek as the Southwest Water Company representatives and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality continue to measure and test the water in the area,” Toledo said, in the statement.

The spill traveled south from SouthWest’s Windermere Wastewater Facility plant, with noticeable dead fish at the Pfennig Lane and Swenson Farms Boulevard intersection.

In a statement, Gary Rose, director of operations at Windermere Utility, confirmed a pump failure was discovered at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 19.

“Unfortunately, the decrease of dissolved oxygen in the water, combined with extreme summer heat, resulted in the death of fish in Gilleland Creek,” Rose said in the statement. “Our crews took immediate action and worked overnight to correct oxygen levels in the water and to collect the impacted fish they could find. This event was promptly reported to the City of Pflugerville and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).”

Rose added operators at Windermere Utility will monitor the stream throughout the upcoming days and are developing a plan to avoid similar incidents in the future.

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  1. This happens like at least 3 times a year. Why is this company still allowed to operate at all? Google “Gilleland Creek spill” This is the third or fourth time this year alone. Gilleland Creek is the only natural waterway through Pflugerville and yet this city doesn’t care that this utility company poisons it every single year multiple times. Pathetic that nothing is being done except fines.

  2. Pf Utility Customer

    I agree that creek pollution from these public utilities is a ridiculous chronic problem. It’s amazing that creek has any fish left to kill. One can only wonder if we have already brought some kind of unique endangered species to extinction. The last spill was caused by some kind of pump failure as well. Unfortunately these are public utilities, so fining them a huge amount would only hurt the public customers – you and me. For things to change, we need some kind of grass roots organization to make it known that we won’t accept any more spillage incidents, AND customers must be willing to pay the price of any additional safeguards. So now here is the central question: How much extra are YOU willing to pay for your water service to stop polluting Gilleland Creek? Water prices are already outrageous.

  3. A plan to avoid it in the future? Like this wasn’t a foreseeable incident? I’m sick of this. Somebody ought to be fired, maybe thus needs to become a jail offense, but it needs to stop!

  4. I doubt if the operators are to blame. This is probably an antique water treatment plant that was built decades ago when Pville was a much smaller town. I’m guessing that it is long overdue for an upgrade, and they’ll soon be floating a bond proposal for it. Expect your water bill to increase sometime in the future

  5. Brushy Creek, San Gabriel River and now Gilleland Creek. We can’t have nice things. It’s business as usual. 😡

  6. Southwest Water is a PRIVATE company and they need to be held accountable. They charge ridiculously high rates for water and sewage and have a monopoly in certain parts of the area where you have no choice but to use them and pay the extremely high fees.

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Kelsey Thompson
Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from upstate New York, she relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.
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