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Driftwood resident SUSAN COOK writes that Wimberley’s plans to discharge treated wastewater effluent into Deer Creek is “passing off a problem of one set of citizens to create an irreparable harm to another set of citizens, along with the environment they all share.” 

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EDITOR:

As a person who loves Wimberley, loves Cypress Creek and loves the Blanco River as it flows through the Wimberley Valley, I am troubled to see the city of Wimberley aggressively pursuing a plan to discharge sewage effluent into the Blanco River. I swim in these waters, have enjoyed these waterways for decades and do not wish to see harm or degradation come to them due to a shortsighted, technologically deficient municipal wastewater project.

It has come to my attention that the city of Wimberley has proceeded with engineering and financial plans to build and operate a wastewater treatment plant whose effluent overflows will be intentionally discharged into Deer Creek, a seasonal waterway which feeds directly into the Blanco River, and unintentionally may send nutrient-rich seepage into Cypress Creek and Blue Hole Regional Park swimming areas. I sincerely hope that this permit will not be approved as drafted and will instead be revised substantially to protect water quality, aquatic life and air quality, or that it be denied and a new process for figuring out how to deal with human wastes in this area be designed.

Although the Wimberley city government officials continue to deny that there will be any chance of degrading the local waterways due to discharge of chlorinated effluent into those waterways, they also state often that, although they are applying for a discharge permit, they do not intend to discharge, or if they do, not very often and if they do, it won’t hurt anything. 

It seems to me that if the city does not wish to discharge and plans only to use a land application scheme, then why not just apply for a land application permit?

Also, it appears that this plant is already at capacity and has been designed with inadequate storage capacity, before it is even built, and therefore it will need to be expanded very soon, making this whole project even more baffling in its scope and purpose. 

Citizens downstream of this wastewater treatment plant are very concerned that their clear, clean river will end up with algal blooms and other consequences of adding biological, chemical and pharmaceutical nutrients to the river, the creeks and the banks of those waterways. There is ample research, along with experience, to show that water and air quality, along with native aquatic and plant life, can be negatively affected by chemicals, pharmaceuticals, herbicides, pesticides, human biological wastes, etc. Why would anyone risk this in a town like Wimberley where clean, sparkling, cool water provides the spirit of the whole place and has for millennia.

A better plan should have been proposed for such a lovely water featured area as is characterized by Wimberley and its oasis-like surrounds. When I hear people  say things like, “This is the same kind of wastewater treatment used in many towns and cities in Texas,” I wonder if they would swim downstream of these other plants and if any of them has ever wondered what kind of condition those streams were in before some town started using that waterway as the recipient of its sewage. Just because it has been done before is no reason to do it again, to ruin a waterway with effluent because a city government has not used adequate imagination, nor reached further for a more technologically adequate solution to human wastes.

Another very troubling aspect of this is that in Wimberley, this whole project is pitting downtown business owners against downstream property-owners, selling out the interests of one segment of the city’s population for the benefit of another. This saddens me and is making people who should be working together, working instead at cross purposes.

I am in no position to offer a solution for this, as I am neither an engineer nor a financier, but there is no reason to degrade the waters of Cypress Creek, Deer Creek or the Blanco River, and in doing so harm the property value and lifestyles of people living and playing along those waterways, just because some downtown property owners have failed to find a way to address their own wastewater problems. This is passing off a problem of one set of citizens to create an irreparable harm to another set of citizens, along with the environment they all share.

It is apparent to me that we need to approach this whole problem with new eyes, with new technologies, and with a renewed sense of community where all Wimberley’s citizens, along with the people who love and regularly visit this area to swim and cavort along the banks of these waterways, work together for a solution that harms no one, does not degrade these waterways, does not harm the land, its plants and animal life and makes this area even more ecologically sound, not less so.

SUSAN COOK
Driftwood

The San Marcos Mercury welcomes original letters to the editor about issues of public interest including those in support of, or opposition to, candidates for public office. Send letters through our contact page or email them to Editor & Publisher Brad Rollins.

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