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In this issue: Permian Highway Pipeline updates, Wastewater in the Hill Country, the Texas Brewshed Alliance launch, EP updates, 86th legislature updates, Upcoming Events & More!

Hays County Commissioners Courthouse

Photo by Jon Augustine

Hays County, City of Kyle announce Lawsuit against the Permian Highway Pipeline

A coalition of landowners, joined by the City of Kyle and Hays County, today filed suit in Travis County state District Court asking that condemnation activity for the Permian Highway Pipeline be halted until proper routing oversight by the Railroad Commission is established.

The suit asks that the Railroad Commission be ordered to follow legislative mandates and “adopt administrative rules, policies, and practices that provide objective, enforceable standards for the exercise of eminent domain authority” by pipeline companies, specifically including Permian Highway Pipeline, LLC and Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline, LLC.

“This suit is about one thing: giving landowners a voice in the process,” said Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell. “We put a great amount of thought into our options. We understand just how important the oil and gas industry is to the State of Texas, and we don’t want to do anything to undermine their contribution to our economy.”

PHP Route Overlaid on Central Texas Watershed Protection Plans

CCWPP Map with sites

The Permian Highway Pipeline Threatens Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan

The Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan was the first EPA-approved watershed protection plan focused on preventative measures. Kinder Morgan’s proposed Permian Highway Pipeline project, (PHP project), directly intersects and undermines the Cypress Creek WPP. 

In spite of Kinder Morgan's assertion that this would be only a natural gas pipeline, there are reports that some landowner contracts still contain language allowing Kinder Morgan to convert the pipeline to crude oil and other hydrocarbons!
 

The PHP project has big non-point source, (NPS), pollution implications due to the runoff and sediment generated during the construction process. Further, extremely dangerous and potentially irreparable NPS pollution would occur in the event of a pipeline failure. The region’s common floods and unique karst aquifers are obvious indications that building new fossil fuel infrastructure could endanger public and environmental health, but as of now, and in spite of its investment, the EPA has not required Kinder Morgan to do an environmental impact study.

This photo of the Blanco River from March 2019 by John Brown shows the stark difference betweeen the crystal clear water upstream from the City of Blanco's discharge site and the immense algae bloom downstream.

This graphic from No Dumping Sewage shows sustainable, alternative solutions to wastewater discharge.

Texas Wastewater Woes

Over 2,583 wastewater treatment plants across the state have permission to dump treated wastewater into our waterways.

In 2018, the City of Blanco requested a permit from TCEQ to discharge 1.6 million gallons of treated wastewater daily into the Blanco River.

The City of Blanco began discharging within the limits of their current permit at the beginning of this year and the effects are immediately obvious. This is a glaring example of why the TCEQ should deny their permit to discharge 7 times this amount into the Blanco River. Texas can do better. We take pride in our artesian rivers, lets take care of them. The long term benefits of being bold are many and they outweigh the costs of being "convenient."

As advocates for healthy watersheds, WVWA and our regional conservation partners believe that there are better, affordable alternatives to direct discharge in the Hill Country. Through beneficial reuse, decentralized technologies, small scale solutions, and land application, we can ensure that our Hill country rivers and streams remain pristine and healthy.

Skull Creek flows black. Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Left: Colorado County Groundwater Conservation District board member Andrew Labay, who is also a fisheries biologist, examines the banks of Skull Creek. Right: Labay holds a rock from the creek bank covered in a black substance.  Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

Skull Creek Disaster Exposes Inadequate Regard for Texas Water

A disturbing report published by the Texas Tribune on April 17 demonstrates the colossal effect that one’s actions and negligence can have on their neighbors downstream, and highlights the absolute necessity to be hyper vigilant about what we introduce to our waterways.

The Tribune’s article details the upsetting story of a family who lives on 10 acres along Skull Creek, south of the I-10 and TX-71 interchange at Columbus. Since early February, the normally clear creek has turned pitch black, and a headache-inducing chemical smell has saturated the air around the water. The family can not even step outside of their home without feeling ill.

Though nobody has claimed responsibility, the discoloration can be traced upstream to property owned by an oil and gas waste recycling facility. The Texas attorney general has sued the company, alleging that the company “illegally discharged industrial waste into the creek and stored that waste without a permit.”

The polluted water in Skull Creek enters the Colorado River, which carries the toxic waste through southeast Texas and introduces it to Matagorda Bay on the Gulf Coast. However, because nobody has officially been held culpable, clean-up efforts have not yet occurred. Skull Creek has been flowing black for 10 weeks, devastating the lives of Texans who live on its bank and polluting water used for irrigation, livestock and recreation. So far, the only thing that has been done about it is bureaucratic bickering, head scratching, finger pointing and paperwork filing.

Preferred Wastewater Systems for the Texas Hill Country

The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, in collaboration with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, Save Barton Creek Association, and Community Environmental Services, recently published a report that provides guidance on a variety of cost-effective wastewater solutions for the Texas Hill Country.

The report “Preferred Wastewater Systems for the Texas Hill Country and Over the Edwards Aquifer: Economic and Environmental Considerations” presents key considerations for choosing individual on-site, clustered and non-discharging centralized wastewater systems to help engineers, developers, and decision-makers choose the appropriate scale of the system. It also provides preferred system attributes and case studies for each of the service system categories.

Electro Purification Update from TESPA

TESPA attorneys and attorneys for Hays County have been hard at work on the Electro Purification contested case.  On April 12th, the Protestants (TESPA, Hays County, WVWA, and individual landowners), submitted their prefiled testimony in this case.  This is a written form of direct testimony that is used in the State Office of Administrative Hearing proceedings. Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District will submit their testimony on June 12th. TESPA and the County's hydrogeological expert performed extensive modeling of the impacts associated with EP's proposed permit. TESPA is currently in the process of making these files easily viewable for the public and is working on holding a public meeting this summer, so please stay tuned.

Legislation the 86th Session

Our friends at the Hill Country Alliance have put together a Bill List featuring all of the relevant bills to the Hill Country. HCA has categorized the 2019 list into Good for the Hill Country, Bad for the Hill Country, and Worth Watching.

If you have a specific interest in any of these bills, now is the time to contact your Legislator and the Natural Resource Committees to give voice to Hill Country natural resource protection.

Texas Brewshed Alliance: Official Launch
June 8th at Vista Brewing

Destination Brew Fest will be the launch of the Texas Brewshed Alliance, which works to preserve our most critical natural resource: clean groundwater. The Brewshed is a collaboration of breweries, conservation groups, local businesses and beer lovers joining together to inspire communities across Texas through fun, educational events and engage them in taking action to steward their local lands and waters which are vital for brewing exceptional craft beer.

Destination Brew Fest is a boutique beer festival benefiting the Texas Brewshed Alliance.  The festival features some of the best lagers and farmhouse style ales from Texas and beyond.  You'll have an opportunity to dive deep into the story and history behind these beers with brewery representatives and a hand-picked range of specialty partners.

Tickets On Sale Now
Early bird ticket sales end May 15th

Join the Destination Brew Fest Facebook Event to invite your friends and stay up to date on the latest news and announcements

Texas Brewshed Alliance
Poster Artwork Contest

The Brewshed Alliance is now taking submissions for either hand-drawn or digital designs for the 2019 Texas Brewshed Alliance Official Member Posters!

Posters will be given to all of our brewer and brewpub partners for prominent display in their establishments.

The winning poster will be inspirational and will feature imagery of the Texas Hill Country and the connection between water and beer.

The winner will receive 2 tickets to Destination BrewFest at Vista Brewing on June 8th along with a Brewshed SWAG bag featuring a YETI Rambler, t-shirt, stickers, and more.

Please submit 11x17 artwork submissions to: admin@wimberleywatershed.org by May 28th.
Winner will be announced on June 1st.

Upcoming Events

Imagine the Wimberley Valley
Finding Common Ground for our Common Good

May 19, 2019
2:00-5:00 pm
Wimberley Community Center

When opinion’s divided and debate gets hot, it’s time to get creative. More curious. More intentional. More ingenious. Times like this encourage us to dream bigger and keep going even though there are bumps in the road. That’s how great ideas are born and communities thrive. 

Register today to get the process started!

May 4th
Family Fun Day at Jacob’s Well Natural Area

Star Wars at Blue Hole

May 9th
Healthy Creeks Initiative Arundo Control Spring Workshop

May 11th
A Texas Myth Screening at AFS

June 8th
Destination Brew Fest

 

Wimberley Valley Watershed Association

The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association works to create a greater understanding community-wide of the many benefits that flow from a respectful relationship with the land: human health, ecological health, economic sustainability, enriched community life, and the renewal of the human spirit.

The W.V.W.A. is a registered nonprofit organization, under the section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and therefore all charitable donations are deductible to the full extent allowed by law.


PO Box 2534
Wimberley, Texas 78676
512-722-3390
admin@wimberleywatershed.org

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