Dripping Springs appeals court reversal of wastewater discharge permit

The TCEQ permit would have allowed Dripping Springs to dispose of treated wastewater into Onion Creek, which runs through Hays County and southern Travis County. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
The TCEQ permit would have allowed Dripping Springs to dispose of treated wastewater into Onion Creek, which runs through Hays County and southern Travis County. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

The TCEQ permit would have allowed Dripping Springs to dispose of treated wastewater into Onion Creek, which runs through Hays County and southern Travis County. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Dripping Springs and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality appealed a ruling Nov. 16 by the 459th Texas District Court that reversed a wastewater discharge permit that was granted to the city in early 2019.

The TCEQ permit would have allowed Dripping Springs to dispose of treated wastewater into Onion Creek, which city officials have said is necessary to expand its treatment plant’s capacity to serve the city’s growing population.

The reversal of the permit was handed down by Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who ruled in favor of South Austin nonprofit Save Our Springs Alliance. In the lawsuit, the nonprofit claimed that the allowed 800,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater could negatively impact Onion Creek’s native species and the area drinking water.

“[The ruling is] an important step towards preventing Hill Country streams from being used to flush sewage downstream, which ultimately contaminates groundwater wells and endangered species habitat, including Barton Springs,” Save Our Springs Alliance said in a statement after the Oct. 29 ruling in favor of the nonprofit.

Dripping Springs City Council discussed the ruling in an executive session Nov. 3 before reconvening and unanimously voting to appeal the ruling.


In a Nov. 16 news release, the city stated that evidence and expert witness testimonies used when initially applying for the permit will be used during the appeal. Evidence shows compliance with Texas Surface Water Quality Standards and environmental protection, according to the release.

“As I mentioned when we heard the news of the district court’s decision, we are confident in our ability to move forward,” Dripping Springs Mayor Bill Foulds said in the release. “We are confident that our appeal to the Third Court of Appeals will confirm that the city is doing everything in its power to accommodate the wastewater needs of our growing community in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible, and that our permit will stand."
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


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