by ANDY SEVILLA
Responding to public outcry, the developers of the controversial Paso Robles development say they will not use treated waste water above the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.
Carma Texas had planned to water at 18-hole golf course in the gated community with wastewater treated by the City of San Marcos, including five holes that are located, at least in part, over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. Three holes of the golf course are situated entirely above the Edwards Aquifer.
The developers and city officials have begun discussions to use potable water over the portions of the golf course covering the aquifer.
“We’re not going to use reclaimed water on the recharge zone,” said Carma Texas General Manager Shaun Cranston. “…We’d like to use the reclaimed water on the rest of the (golf) course, so we can conserve drinking water.”
Cranston said the city’s treated waste water will be used for irrigation and to water the other 13 holes of the golf course.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved a Special Exception Request in April 2009, which allows reclaimed water to be used on the golf course, including the holes over the aquifer.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), however, voiced disapproval with the use of treated waste water above the recharge zone, because of “a degradation of ambient water quality.” The EAA has now changed course after Carma notified it of the plan against using reclaimed water directly above the recharge zone.
“Please note that (Edwards Aquifer) Authority staff would support a decision that avoids the use of reclaimed water on the recharge zone and would greatly appreciate such a proactive approach to protecting the quality of water in the Edwards Aquifer,” said John R. Hoyt, EAA’s assistant general manager of aquifer management in a letter addressed to Carma on Aug. 31.
City staff has defended the use of reclaimed water above the recharge zone because of the high degree of quality to which it’s treated, and because it would serve as an added revenue source for San Marcos. But after much public opposition, the city requested that Carma use potable water over the recharge zone, instead.
San Marcos spokesperson Melissa Millecam said the city asked Carma to reconsider treated wastewater use over the aquifer in response to resident concerns.
“The citizens have asked us to look into alternatives for watering over the recharge zone, and I think we’ve done a responsible job of it,” Cranston said, adding that negotiations are in effect with the city regarding potable water use on the five holes of the proposed golf course situated above the aquifer.
The Paso Robles development has been an issue of much discussion at City Hall, mainly due to resident opposition to the project during public hearings. Residents have expressed concerns about traffic implications, the environment, and the developers’ request for a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ).
The project consists of 1,338.6 acres, 432 of which are in the city limits. The other 906.5 acres would be annexed into the city. The development will have up to 3,450 homes, translating to a density of 2.7 units per acre.
The Edwards Aquifer sits under about 205 acres of the project’s whole land area.
The proposed 18-hole golf course will be open to the public under a daily fee, and is set to be designed and operated under general conformity with the Audubon International Signature Program.
Currently in use as a cattle ranch, the property delivers $7,578 in annual property tax to San Marcos. If it gets fully annexed into the city limits and after full build out, it’s projected to present $3,897,169 in annual property taxes, as well as $2,165,130 in sales tax. The property doesn’t presently generate a sales tax revenue for San Marcos.
The developers’ requested TIRZ allows for reimbursements to Carma above the base amount of taxes currently generated by the property. The reimbursements would pay Carma back for Hunter Road water lines, McCarty Lane water tank pumps, regional water line infrastructure, regional offsite waster water improvements, waste water tank line and over sizing improvements, and for a reclaimed water line.
During the creation of Paso Robles’ plan, the developers have had 50 formal city meetings, as well as meetings with TCEQ, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Hays County, and San Marcos CISD. According to a presentation by Carma, 14 of the meetings were posted as public meetings.Email | Print