|Blanco and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)Process|
The City of Blanco has requested a permit to discharge 1.6 million gallons of treated wastewater into the Blanco River per day. This is 7 times the amount of their current permit. [Note: As a point of reference, Dripping Springs’ permit is about half this capacity, at 825,500 gallons/day, and they have double the population of Blanco.] The Blanco permit application (Permit number WQ0010549002) was submitted to the TCEQ in November 2016.
On August 23, 2018 the City held a public meeting in the Blanco Courthouse with TCEQ and the City’s engineer available to address citizen questions and concerns. Over 100 people attended, despite no advance notice, and expressed solid concerns with the 7-fold increase in permit size and the 100% dump/discharge into the river solution the City requested in the permit.Following this meeting, over 200 people filed formal complaints with TCEQ and Protect our Blanco was formed, created a website, held numerous neighbor meetings, obtained over 2200 signatures on a petition, and raised enough seed money to start this important fight. Typically, TCEQ responds to comments within a 30-60-day period, but due in part to the veryhigh volume of complaints and the controversy surrounding Blanco’s proposal, this process took almost one year.
Meanwhile back in Blanco
In an October 17, 2018 Blanco County News article, the City announced that the new wastewater treatment plant came online October 1, 2018. City has indicated that they are currently dumping 100% of the treated wastewater into the Blanco River and have been since at least the first of the year. They no longer have access to the adjacent field to utilize for irrigation (they allowed that lease to expire in December 2018 and therefore do not have rights to this land). As you likely noticed, there was a major algae bloom in the Blanco River this March. While some believed this was a natural algae bloom, if you look at the photo below, you can see the bloom begins specifically at the point after the City releases the treated wastewater. The river above is clear of algae. Natural? Probably not! With our current heat and the lack of rain, the City’s wastewater dump is increasingly a larger percentage of the flow below. To our knowledge, most landownersin the mile below the dumpsite have quit using the river for recreation and are not allowing pets to swim in the river either.
Blanco River, March 2019
POB members have been attending Blanco City Council meetings to help persuade the council members to act to eliminate the discharge. We’ve amplified this request through letters to the editor (Blanco newspaper), POB’s full-page and ½ page ads in the paper, a January educational event at Old 300 with over 200 attendees, 100+ yard signs in the City and county, individual meetings with the mayor and City council members, and active participation by others to educate the City on the risks and viable alternatives. So far, City Council has not acted. In fact, the actions cited above suggest the opposite, so more work to be done!
On August 7, 2019 TCEQ issued its formal ”response to comments” and provided instructions for how to file a request for a Contested Case Hearing. POB and the public now have 30 days (until September 6th) to request a Contested Case Hearing. POB will be requesting a Contested Case Hearing, and any individual who filed comments and believes they will be affected by the proposed facility (refer to the TCEQ’s instructions and response to comments, attached, for details) can also apply.
If you or your attorney would like a copy of the POB request, please contact us.
What next? POB MEMBERSHIP
If you are not a current POB member, please consider making the minimal $10 donation and officially joining. You can join and pay the $10 fee at www.protectorourblanco.org. If you don’t know if you are a member, respond to this email. We need your help.
SAVE THE DATE
We will be having a public meeting on October 14th or 15th to update our members and we hope that you will attend. Stay tuned for more details.
TIMEFRAME TO FILE FOR CONTESTED CASE HEARING BY TCEQ
9/6/19 – POB and others to request a Contested Case Hearing by 5:00 PM; Approximately 2 weeks later – we should receive notice of TCEQ Commissioner’s public meeting on the hearing requests; The Commissioners Meeting will likely be 35 – 45 days from the date of the notice; Early November – likely the earliest time frame the Commissioners will consider our hearing request. The POB board, legal team, consultants, and many of our members are working diligently to stop the dumping into the Blanco River and to encourage environmentally sustainable alternatives. We can’t be successful in this endeavor without your support and without the commitment of City leaders. So, please help support us financially, help us spread the word and help us influence City officials.