Stop plans to dump treated sewage into the sensitive Upper Nueces River Basin in Texas
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If you love the Hill Country and its spring fed waters, help us demand that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reject a Wastewater permit that would damage pristine Hill Country streams in Bandera and Medina County.
The Commission (TCEQ) is poised to finalize a pollutant discharge permit for a For-Profit Youth Camp being built in Tarpley, Texas. The draft permit would initially allow the release of 25,000 gallons of treated wastewater each day into our small Commissioners Creek, which would increase to 49,000 gallons as the camp expands. This amount of treated wastewater would be like releasing a large swimming pool of treated sewage into a small trickling creek each day.
As you can imagine, downstream neighbors have been upset by this proposal. NO ONE has ever received a permit for direct pollutant discharge (TPDES) into the upper Nueces River Basin north of US Highway 90. Friends of Hondo Canyon, a 501(c)3 organization, was formed to urge the applicant to change their permit.
We have had some success in getting our voice heard. Although the draft permit requires the applicant to reuse on average 75% of the effluent for land application (irrigation), the applicant retains the right to discharge 25% of pollutant wastewater into the creek, and given the small size and pristine nature of our Creek, this would still degrade the water quality.
Your help is needed to urge camp operators and the commission to withdraw the pollutant discharge permit and instead apply for a permit in keeping with the applicant’s good intentions to reuse all of the effluent– this permit is called a Texas Land Application Permit (TLAP). In a TLAP permit, ZERO, wastewater may be discharged into the creek.
TLAPs are common among other commercial and municipal wastewater treatments facilities in the Texas Hill Country, because our pristine and nutrient-deficient streams are degraded by even the slightest addition of treated wastewater. Land Application does not allow any discharge into streams and rivers, but rather uses wastewater to irrigate crops and grasses allowing the land to naturally filter out the nitrogen and phosphorus found in treated wastewater. Without question it’s the most effective and responsible way to deal with wastewater. Also, TLAPs help filter other contaminants that are unregulated by the TCEQ, such as prescription drugs, THC, and chemicals in personal products.
Camp owners Sam and Susan Torn and their family have a legacy of operating Christian camps in Arkansas, including Camp Ozark and Camp War Eagle. They’ve provided a positive experience for thousands of young people encouraging them to follow Christ. This is a noble cause from any perspective. However, if approved, the permit they have applied for will create a new legacy of environmental damage in the Texas Hill Country. There are 81 Youth camps in the Texas Hill Country, and 80 of them use alternative methods to dispose of wastewater. Why the Torns have applied for a pollutant discharge is a mystery. In Bandera County, there is only one permitted direct discharge permit - for the city of Bandera. Why would a Christian camp want a permit to discharge pollutants into a small creek when other camps realize the negative impact to the environment, and have designed their camp accordingly? Zero discharge, with 100% land application of wastewater, is used at another camp they direct in Arkansas. We deserve zero discharge in Texas!
If approved, this pending permit would be the first permit of its kind to allow wastewater releases into the sensitive small creeks and streams of the Upper Nueces River Basin. The Upper Nueces River Basin must be protected. It’s a sensitive water resource comprised of many small spring-fed streams feeding the Sabinal, Nueces and Frio Rivers and the Edwards Aquifer. Many of the streams feeding the rivers and the aquifer have very low water flow and little ability to naturally heal themselves, especially during the hot summer months.
If approved, it will set a new precedent in Texas, allowing harmful nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous to rise from the current undetectable levels high enough to cause algae blooms and make the water unsightly, unswimmable, and uninhabitable for aquatic life.
Thanks to State Representative Andrew Murr of Junction, TCEQ held a public meeting on August 26thin Bandera, Texas. There was a standing room only crowd - over 300 people - and 50 spoke passionately about why this permit should not be approved. Big money and big influence is involved and citizens must rally behind local landowners to stop this from moving forward in its current form. Sign and share this petition and make everyone you know aware of the need to protect spring fed creeks in the Texas Hill Country.
We need to convince the Torn family (Camp owners) and the TCEQ to DO THE RIGHT THING and invest in a zero-discharge facility and keep all of the 49,000 gallons/d of wastewater out of our creek. A Texas Land Application Permit is the only way to guarantee protection of our precious water.
More information is available on our website
You can help our cause by
- signing this petition
- call/write our governor, your local state senator, your local state representative.
- donate to our cause (details are on our website; Change.org accepts donations for running this website -- donations to our cause must be processed at our website above). TCEQ has to respond to all of the public comments - we likely will have responses from them by late November 2019. The next step, if change is not reached, is legal proceedings of a Contested Case Hearing. We will need your ongoing support to make this happen
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