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Dripping Springs One Step Closer to Addressing Community's Critical Wastewater Needs

City Receives Favorable Ruling from State Office of Administrative Hearings; Clears Hurdle Before TCEQ Approval

DRIPPING SPRINGS, TEXAS – November 26, 2018 – The City of Dripping Springs announced today that it has received a favorable ruling from the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) regarding its much-needed wastewater discharge permit.  The decision clears the way for Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioners to issue a final permit, allowing the City to begin expansion of its wastewater treatment plant to continue providing for its citizens and to accommodate the rapid residential and commercial growth in the area.

“We know we have one last step to take with TCEQ in order to expand our wastewater treatment plant, but today’s SOAH ruling is incredibly important for us,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds.  “Our responsibility is to care for the citizens of our community, to be good stewards of our environment and to plan for the growth that we know is coming.  It would be easy to stick our heads in the sand and avoid making tough decisions; that is not what our city is about.  We knew this process would be challenging and would cause concern among some stakeholders.  I am incredibly proud we reached a compromise with just about everyone involved.”

The City’s application for a discharge permit was referred to SOAH for a recommendation to TCEQ.   By way of background, the State Office of Administrative Hearings, SOAH, conducts contested case hearings, referred from other State of Texas agencies (including TCEQ) or other governmental entities.  The office is separate and independent from the agencies involved in the disputes. The administrative law judges (ALJ) who preside over the disputes are neutral. 

The ALJ in this case agreed with the City of Dripping Springs on all 12 issues that were referred for the contested case hearing and concluded that the City’s application should be granted.  Other notable conclusions of the judge included:

The draft permit contains provisions to protect the health of the hearing requesters and wildlife in the area;
The draft permit will be protective of water quality and the uses of the receiving water under the applicable Texas Surface Water Quality Standards; and 
The draft permit is protective of groundwater in the area.

“The City’s application has been thoroughly researched and vetted.  We believe this is the best path forward from both an environmental and fiscal perspective,” said Deputy City Administrator Ginger Faught.  “The City has done its homework and feels incredibly confident in our plan.”

While a discharge permit is required to expand the treatment plant, the City has always had significant plans for beneficial reuse and has been committed to that goal since day one. In fact, it has been negotiating reuse contracts for years, separate and apart from any settlement talks. It has never intended to discharge.  

Dripping Springs remains focused on reuse and has signed contracts with various developments in the area to accept close to 500,000 gallons per day of treated effluent. This, combined with plans to irrigate city-owned land, accounts for approximately 600,000 gallons per day, putting a significant dent into the new agreed-upon allowable maximum of 882,500 gallons per day. For context, the City now produces approximately 100,000 gallons per day; it is anticipated that the proposed expansion will accommodate the City for the next decade.


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