The Austin Chronicle

Is Your Water Running ... Pink?

Dye study confirms Onion Creek as aquifer recharge source

By Michael King, February 2, 2018, News

In a press release featuring a bathtub full of bright pink water – alas, not a bathtub cocktail – Dripping Springs environmental group Protect Our Water announced the results of a December dye study performed by the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conser­va­tion District, the city of Austin, and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. As summarized in the release, the study showed that "Onion Creek surface water recharges the Trinity Aquifer through its fractured rock-bottom creek bed. It also confirms that if the city of Dripping Springs discharges treated sewage into Onion Creek, this too would flow into the Trinity Aquifer and into potentially hundreds of local wells of local families that depend on the Trinity Aquifer for their water."

The study took place in the context of a permit application pending before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that would authorize the city of Dripping Springs to discharge treated effluent (wastewater) up to 995,000 gallons per day. POW cited earlier assurances from Mayor Todd Purcell that if it were to be demonstrated that Onion Creek water is reaching the aquifer, he would withdraw the permit. In response to the release of the dye study, Purcell issued a statement saying that the city is seeking more information, but that preliminary results show only three private wells affected, and Onion Creek water already incorporates runoff containing "pesticides, petroleum products, fertilizers and animal waste."

Purcell reiterated that even if the permit is approved by TCEQ, Dripping Springs currently has no plans to discharge effluent into the creek, and its current combined capacities for groundwater release and storage greatly exceed any future need. "I know that I speak for the Council when I say that we feel confident that we will not need to discharge into Onion Creek, certainly not any time soon," he said, "and that we are committed to achieving 100% reuse, as we have been from the time we filed our permit application."

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.