Wastewater WIN for the Hill Country

We’ve received wonderful news from the Nueces River watershed — Young Life’s LoneHollow Ranch has opted to treat wastewater through a land application process rather than direct discharge into the Upper Sabinal River.  This is particularly important because the Upper Sabinal River is one of Texas’ last Pristine Stream Segments (where there’s no detectable phosphorus, a wastewater indicator) and just upstream from the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

The shift from direct discharge to land application shows forethought and stewardship for limited and vulnerable water resources.  Advanced treatment and reuse boosts water conservation and preserves limited water resources.  Kudos to the Bandera Canyonlands Alliance, the Cibolo Conservancy, neighbors, and concerned citizens for speaking up for water quality and to collaborating to reach a positive outcome.  Thanks to Young Life for their stewardship and conservation.

Young Life’s announcement:  Revised approach includes a zero-discharge permit that accomplishes camp’s and community’s shared water conservation goals with “new standard for water management”

August 7, 2021 (Vanderpool, Texas) — LoneHollow Ranch, a Young Life camp in the Texas Hill Country, today announced it will be filing for a Texas Land Application Permit (TLAP) as part of a Zero-Discharge water conservation plan. This plan was developed in coordination with the Cibolo Conservancy and also based on discussions with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). It will allow Young Life to withdraw their request for a TCEQ discharge permit.

While Young Life always planned to use as much of the treated water as possible for irrigation, the issue was how would LoneHollow Ranch manage the water that could not be used for irrigation — such as during heavy rain events. The best option Young Life identified under the original permit parameters was a TCEQ discharge permit that would have allowed for up to 60,000 gallons of treated water to be released per day, far more than LoneHollow would ever need or want to release. Previously available Zero-Discharge options would not have permitted LoneHollow Ranch to use treated water for irrigation in all areas of the camp, creating a need to use more groundwater for irrigation. However, this new plan will allow LoneHollow Ranch to adopt a Zero-Discharge approach without compromising on Type-1 treatment or limiting the areas of the camp where treated water could be used for irrigation.

“Since the Cibolo Conservancy first started advising LoneHollow Ranch, it was clear they wanted to do what was best for the environment but felt limited by the permit options available to them,” said Brent Evans, Executive Director of the Cibolo Conservancy Land Trust that holds a conservation easement on the property. “We are grateful for the opportunity we had to search for creative solutions for LoneHollow Ranch. This process can now set a new standard for sensitive water management in the Texas Hill Country.”

The plan also garnered support from a local conservation group, Bandera Canyonlands Alliance. “This news is exciting. Achieving Zero Discharge is a great result and it’s encouraging that Young Life is dedicated to achieve this goal at LoneHollow Ranch,” said Merry Langlinais, President of Bandera Canyonlands Alliance. “Their new approach aligns perfectly with our specific goals of environmental stewardship.”

The plan unveiled today utilizes two complementary permits governing water usage on the property. The first is a TLAP permit written to allow for Type 1-level treatment, the highest treatment standard for water. The second is a chapter 210 reuse permit that will allow for treated water to be used for surface irrigation throughout the camp, including areas of human contact.

LoneHollow Ranch will no longer pursue a TCEQ discharge permit and will instead manage any excess water with a zero-discharge subsurface irrigation system.

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