Update from GEAA on Honey Creek Wastewater Fight

On August 20th approximately 90 people came together at a meeting hosted by the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) held in Bulverde, Texas to voice opposition to a plan they believe will cause irreparable harm to two Texas treasures.

Developers of Honey Creek Ranch propose to release up to 500,000/gallons per day of treated sewage effluent from a planned subdivision of 2,396 new homes on 592 acres directly into an unnamed tributary that flows into Honey Creek just upstream of the Honey Creek State Natural Area and Guadalupe River State Park.

Preliminary water quality testing of the receiving water body conducted by the GEAA and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment indicate that Honey Creek is one of the clearest-flowing streams in the Texas Hill Country. Guadalupe River State Park, immediately downstream of the confluence of Honey Creek and the Guadalupe River, has long been one of our state’s most popular places to toss in a tube and ‘float the Guadalupe.’  During average conditions, a substantial portion of the flow into the State Park would consist of nutrient-laden effluent, impacting recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing, and inner tubing on the river.

At the TCEQ meeting, GEAA was joined by citizens affiliated with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas Cave Management Association, Bexar Grotto, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Rivers Protection Association, Bulverde Area Republican Women, and local economic development agencies, as well as local residents – all elucidating a host of reasons why TCEQ should deny this permit. No one spoke in favor of issuing the discharge permit.

It was noted that the testimony offered at the meeting likely represented more well qualified expertise (in the fields of water chemistry, karst geology, aquatic biology, economic development, land use planning) than has ever opposed a TCEQ permit application of any type. All predicted that the introduction of such a large amount of sewage effluent into the pristine waters of Honey Creek would permanently alter an aquatic ecosystem that is internationally famous as unique to the Texas Hill Country. Testimony also warned that floods would cause effluent from the sewage treatment plant to flow into Honey Creek Cave, the longest known cave in Texas, a tributary to the Guadalupe River where you can swim right into the aquifer.

Given that the citizens of Texas have made such a substantial investment in the Honey Creek State Natural Area and Guadalupe River State Park, GEAA asked that all citizens who requested standing in contesting the permit be recognized.

TCEQ has not yet ruled on approving the permit.  In our experience of opposing the introduction of sewage effluent directly into Hill Country waterways that recharge the Edwards and Trinity aquifers, we expect that the permit will be approved.

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance is taking the lead in organizing opposition and raising funds to cover the legal expenses of contesting this permit. A generous donor has offered $15,000 to match tax deductible donations of $100 or more.  You can mail donations to GEAA at PO Box 15618, San Antonio, Texas 78212.  Be sure to note Honey Creek on the check.

You can learn more about the impact of sewage on Hill Country waterways and about this cause on GEAA’s Waste Water page at https://aquiferalliance.org/waste-water-discharge/. You can sign up to receive e-mail alerts by sending your e-mail address to info@AquiferAlliance.org.  (Be sure to write Honey Creek in the subject line).  And, you can enter the discussion, post pictures, and keep up with the latest news at the Save Honey Creek Face Book page.

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