Protect Our Blanco – Blanco Water Reclamation Task Force


The Blanco Water Reclamation Task force worked from September 2020 to October 2021 to identify alternatives to wastewater discharges into the Blanco River.  Through fundraising and outside support, a third-party engineering firm was hired to assess costs to increase capacity for the Blanco wastewater system.  The final recommendation and engineering reports are as follows:

Wimberley Valley Watershed Association’s letter of support for the Task Force recommendation (10/10/2021)

About the Task Force

In its Sept. 22, 2020 meeting, the Blanco City Council approved the creation of a Blanco Water Reclamation Task Force made up of four representatives for the City of Blanco and four members named by Protect Our Blanco facilitated through a MOU with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.  Working together, this effort aims to identify and investigate alternatives to direct discharge that will allow the City of Blanco to grow while protecting water quality, water supplies, and habitat.

Many thanks to the Task Force Members:

    • Matt Lewis (City of Blanco Council Member)
    • Deda Devine (City of Blanco Council Member)
    • Will Daves (City of Blanco City Manager)
    • Ronnie Rodriguez (City of Blanco Public Works Director)
    • David Baker (WVWA & POB Board)
    • Joe Day (POB Board)
    • John Ransom (POB Board and downstream resident)
    • Gabriel Gregerman (Real Ale Brewing Co.)
    • Nick Dornak (Meadows Center facilitator)

Background

The task force proposal envisioned a collaboration that recognizes the fundamental need to keep discharge out of the river, while recognizing the City’s interest in bringing more business to Blanco and helping the region’s population grow responsibly. Engineers can provide long-term solutions through jointly developed scenarios and calculations that span from conventional centralized to a variety of decentralized options. In particular, One Water systems handle wastewater as a resource, not a nuisance, which can be routed to reuse and other beneficial purposes that not only eliminate discharge, but also drastically reduce potable water demand.

For a city government with millions in debt obligations and perhaps tens of millions ahead, according to an engineering study, the task force offers further support to improve cost controls and tie revenue streams to capital outlays. Decentralized options promise more manageable scaling of capacity without discharge. Moreover, Hays County has committed to support the City of Blanco to preserve natural resources for its citizens downstream.

Beginning in October 2018, the City allowed treated effluent discharge to flow directly into the Blanco River. By the spring of 2019, the Blanco River had become filled with algae blooms downstream. Nutrient levels including nitrogen and phosphorus were too high to support a healthy river and prevent eutrophication and algae. When wastewater discharge into the Blanco River ended in December 2019, the river’s natural healing process returned the water to a cleaner, clearer appearance.

Protect Our Blanco continued its theme to be “good neighbors finding a peaceful balance,” working with the City as stewards of the river and our aquifers. Water’s impact permeates the Blanco’s limestone basin, through faults, fractures, and caves into the groundwater system, whose wells provide the sole source of drinking water for much of the Hill Country. Groundwater declines show that alternative water supplies are in desperate need, and beneficial reuse of treated wastewater could augment that supply and protect our aquifers.

The WVWA is partners with Protect Our Blanco and are working with the City of Blanco to incorporate One Water practices and explore alternatives to direct discharge of treated wastewater, including land application and beneficial reuse, and to serve as a model for other Hill Country communities as they grow.

Visit Protect Our Blanco’s Website

Municipal Utility District (MUD) Reference Materials

Water Quality Studies and Engineering Analyses

Assessment of Costs for Two Wastewater Disposal Strategies for the City of Blanco – Revised (Keith O’Connor, PE and Barney Austin, PhD, PE, Oct. 29, 2021)

Blanco TPDES Refinement Study (Barney Austin, Ph.D., P.E., Aqua Strategies, KIT, Blue Creek Consulting, LLC, July 2021)

Final Report:  Bioassessment of four Hill Country streams threatened by proposed municipal wastewater discharges (Dr. Ryan King, Oct. 2020)

Nutrient and biological assessment of the Blanco River, 2019 (Dr. Ryan King, Baylor University, presentation to Blanco City Council, August 2020)

YouTube Presentation by Dr. King

City of Blanco Wastewater Collection System Improvements for Proposed Service Area, (Preliminary analysis and report by Smith-Turrieta Engineering, January 2020)

Review of Conventional Centralized System Collection System Costs in Area South of the Blanco River and Analysis of Costs to Provide Service with a Decentralized Concept Strategy, (David Venhuizen, 2020)

Summary of Blanco River and Cypress Creek Water Quality Data Collection, (Meadows Center, August 2020)

Useful Links:

News and Announcements Archive

Month Updates and Links
July 2021

Phase I Task Force report to Council, 7/72021

September 2020

Blanco City Council approved the creation of a Blanco Water Reclamation Task Force, 9/22/2020

Blanco City Council Votes to Establish A Task Force to Investigate Engineering Options, 9/8/2020

August 2020

Peaceful Balance: Growth without Discharge (presentation to Blanco City Council, David Baker, 8/22/2020)

Protect Our Blanco Call to Action – Help request creation of a Task Force

TCEQ remands City of Blanco wastewater discharge permit

2020 June

Tell Blanco: Don’t Waste Wastewater (plan for beneficial reuse)

2020 May

Notice of Application and Preliminary Decision for TCEQ Permit for Municipal Wastewater 

Recent discharge history

Blanco started discharging in November 2018 at a daily average of 0.119mgd, and stopped in November 2019 at a daily average of 0.108 mgd. The highest daily maximum flow measurement was 0.513 mgd in May 2019.