Volente e-News
Edited by Lonnie Moore
NO SEWAGE IN OUR LAKES! Sept 07, 2009

 Resolution by the Highland Lakes Group
Regarding Possible Lifting of the T.C.E.Q's No-discharge Rule

 Whereas, The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (T.C.E.Q.) established a rule in 1984 that wastewater utilities surrounding the Highland Lakes may not discharge treated effluent into the lakes or their tributaries, and
 
Whereas, the residents and businesses around the Highland Lakes are protected by this rule, both as to personal health and as to the preservation of recreational interests, and
 
Whereas, the economy of the Highland Lakes communities would be adversely affected by any reduction in water recreation on the Highland Lakes which could result from the lowering of the lakes' water quality, and
 
Whereas, the
Highland Lakes Group recognizes the potential threat to all Highland Lakes property values, both residential and commercial, which could result from the pollution of the water in Lake Travis, and
 
Whereas, Protect Lake Travis Association has acted, with the support and encouragement of the Highland Lakes Group, as the watchdogs of the water quality of Lake Travis, therefore
 
Be It Resolved that the Highland Lakes Group opposes any change in the no-discharge rule of T.C.E.Q., but rather supports the continuation of that rule as a protection for the quality of the drinking water used by the residents of the Highland Lakes, and as protection for the important segment of the economies
of Burnet, Llano and Travis Counties that is related to water recreation.
 
Adopted by the Highland Lakes Group Board of Directors on August 27, 2009.
 
(Signed) Cole Rowland, President
"..There are better solutions to dealing with the byproducts of sewage treatment than discharging them into the lakes..."
 
from North Lake Travis Log August 20, 2009
by Lonnie Moore, President,
Protect Lake Travis Association
 
An argument for the TCEQ 'no-discharge' rule
 
There is nothing like a long, serious drought to make us really appreciate the wonderful asset that is Lake Travis. And while we all worry about when the rains and water will return, there is one thing we have not had to worry about in a very long time - the threat of pollution in the form of sewage effluent discharged into Lake Travis and upstream.
 
In the early 1980's, the State of Texas implemented a series of rules restricting discharge of sewage effluent into the six Highland Lakes. The Protect Lake Travis Association was involved in getting these rules passed by bringing public and government attention to the negative effects of effluent discharges into natural bodies of water.
 
Recently a number of wastewater service providers have begun a petition and a public relations campaign to persuade the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that the current restrictions on discharging sewage effluent should be relaxed or eliminated. As part of their campaign, they argue that: 1) sewage effluent discharges would improve
the lake levels, 2) that wastewater treatment processes have improved so that effluent discharges would not be harmful, and 3) that land-based disposal of effluent is both costly and wasteful.
 
PLTA adamantly rejects the premise of the petitioners that the current rules restricting sewage effluent discharge into our lakes should be changed. These rules have been fundamental to keeping our Highland Lakes, including Lake Travis, as clean and healthy as they are today. There are better solutions to dealing with the byproducts of sewage treatment than discharging them into the lakes that we depend on for safe drinking water supply, recreation, tourism and quality of life.
 
 It is not possible in this small space to explain all of the negative effects of discharging effluent into our lakes or to detail the many technical, operational and cost issues involved in trying to consistently achieve and guarantee a truly "safe" quality of effluent. We would rather use this opportunity to point out a better way and offer to help.
 
Done correctly, land-based irrigation with treated effluent is a beneficial reuse that reduces the amount of water needed to be drawn from the Highland Lakes. Coupled with water conservation, this beneficial reuse of the water supply is the best way to have a positive effect on lake levels and is much more environment-friendly than direct discharge of effluent. A large number of entities are already doing this, including Lakeway MUD, and more are beginning to do so throughout the country.
 
We are not talking about "irrigating cedar trees", the example often given by the petitioners. That is a indeed a safe but wasteful disposal method and we should be moving beyond it to using effluent in lieu of potable water for commercial and residential landscapes, crops and even industrial uses. PLTA is aware that changes in regulations and changes in public perception would aid the transition to widespread beneficial reuse of effluent. We would like to help any MUD or city to pursue this option, while continuing to strongly oppose any attempt to allow effluent discharge into our precious lakes.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH PUTTING SEWAGE EFFLUENT INTO OUR LAKES?  THEY SAY IT'S "TREATED" AND REGULATED. DOESN'T THAT MEAN IT'S SAFE? 
 
NO! That's the simplest and most correct answer. Texas, unfortunately, has to depend on the TCEQ to establish and enforce wastewater plant regulations.
 
Raymond Slade, certified hydrologist, has studied wastewater discharges and other issues affecting Hill Country streams and rivers. The link at the bottom will connect to some information Mr. Slade has compiled on the subject. In his materials, Mr. Slade points out 7 major issues with TCEQ "enforcement":
1) Wastewater quality limits are too lax;
2) Wastewater quality limits do not address many pollutants in wastewater;
3) Wastewater quality limits are not based on a complete set of time durations for wastewater samples in some areas (i.e., 30-day average wastewater quality limit is identified but single grab samples and daily maximum values are not identified);
4) TCEQ management of wastewater facilities is not as thorough and uncompromising as it should be;
5) Wastewater permits often are issued without complete identification of and consideration for local and downstream threats to water quality (i.e., wastewater can be discharged into dry streams);
6) TCEQ rules do not ban or limit phosphorus content in detergents;
7) Wastewater permits do not require monitoring of receiving surface or groundwater for contamination from the wastewater.
 
For more detailed information from Mr. Slade on these issues and more, see this LINK 
 OK - I DON'T WANT LEANDER, GRANITE SHOALS AND OTHER CITIES TO START DUMPING THEIR SEWAGE EFFLUENT INTO LAKE TRAVIS OR UPSTREAM - WHAT CAN I DO? 
1) Join Highland Lakes Group and Protect Lake Travis Association and help them oppose this effort to pollute our waters;
2) Ask your city (Village of Volente), county and other entities to draft and pass resolutions similar to that above, letting TCEQ know of their opposition to removing or modifying the discharge ban;
3) Write letters to the editors of area publications, such as the Statesman, Lake Travis View, North Lake Travis Log, etc. expressing your concern.