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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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TCEQ hearing on Barton Creek dumping tonight
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 by Jo Clifton
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has scheduled a public meeting at 7 p.m. tonight to take comments about a planned sewage facility between Oak Hill and Dripping Springs. Environmentalists oppose the permit because it could dump up to 45,000 gallons a day of treated wastewater into one of Barton Creek’s contributing streams. According to a study by the city, pollutants in the treated sewage are likely to cause algae growth for several miles along the Long Branch tributary of Barton Creek. Nearby neighbors, Save Barton Creek Association, Save Our Springs Alliance, the city of Austin and other groups are protesting the discharge permit, which has been requested by Houston developer Stephen Cleveland. After the hearing, agency staff will issue their opinion about whether the permit should be granted, which could take 60 days or more. The Watershed Protection Department has already indicated that the city would request a contested case hearing before an administrative law judge if TCEQ signals its intent to recommend issuance of the permit. Brian Zabcik of Save Barton Creek says that anyone interested in commenting should sign up early (ID 189-821-291) rather than waiting for the hearing to start. Zabcik said environmentalists were disappointed Monday when a Texas House committee voted against the passage of House Bill 4146, which would have prevented private developers from dumping into many pristine Texas creeks and streams, including Barton Creek. While they are still hopeful that a companion bill, Senate Bill 1747, might win approval, a hearing has not been scheduled, making its future doubtful.
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