Texas’ pristine streams need protection. It is up to the State Senate to act.

The first time I paddled the Nueces River I was blown away by the water – crystal clear, aqua colored, almost tropical. I could easily see the bottom of the river several feet below me and fish as they darted under my kayak.

Fed by springs that escape groundwater below the Edwards Plateau, the Nueces is among the last streams of uniquely pure purity in Texas.

More development is leading to an increase in discharge permit applications in Texas, endangering pristine waterways like the Nueces.

House bill 4146 by Representative Tracy King (D-Laredo) and Senate Bill 1747 by Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) of the state legislature will protect these untouched streams and rivers by prohibiting the discharge of sewage. HB 4146 has passed the House and is now awaiting a hearing at the Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

While the domestic bill received broad support, it will be unlikely to pass this session if it is not heard by the Senate committee by Friday.

The Nueces River in Texas is a pristine river that would be protected by legislation pending in the State Senate. Source: Ben Newman

Why so few rivers are pristine

The Texas Environmental Quality Commission allows municipalities and other entities to discharge treated wastewater effluent into rivers. For example, after flushing the toilet in Austin, the city of Austin treats this wastewater to meet state water quality standards and then discharges it into the Colorado River east of the city.

It happens all the time, all over the state – to the point that treated municipal wastewater effluent has become a major source of flow for many rivers in Texas. National water quality standards ensure that treated wastewater discharged into rivers is relatively clean, but not intact.

As they say, dilution is the solution to pollution.

But not for the upper segments of shallow groundwater fed streams and rivers across the Edwards Plateau.

Why groundwater-fed springs are cleaner and cleaner

Treated wastewater does not maintain these waterways. Groundwater dependent sources do. This is why the water is so clear and so pure. This is why these streams make such glorious swimming holes that adorn postcards.

Treated wastewater contains large amounts of phosphorus, which clouds the water and causes algae blooms. Upper segments of streams and rivers fed only by groundwater – like the Nueces, Frio, and Devils – contain little or no phosphorus.

To make matters worse, if we discharge treated wastewater into these waterways we run the risk of polluting the groundwater, too, because across the Edwards Plateau, groundwater and surface water are connected.

Pristine Waters in Texas

Map of the crystal clear waters of Texas

Only 40 of Texas’ 10,000 waterways are pristine. Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Monitoring Data. Map by Robin Gary, Wimberley Valley Watershed Association.

HB 4146 will help keep waterways clean

If we allow treated wastewater effluent to be dumped into pristine waterways, it will be destroyed forever. The same will be true of the property rights of landowners who live along these waterways. HB 4146 is essential for the protection of these waterways.

Above all, the legislation will not stop development in the areas where these rivers are located. Entities can treat and reuse wastewater effluent for irrigation or even for flushing toilets, not only to protect the water quality of pristine rivers, but also to conserve the groundwater that flows into them. feed.

More development in Texas is leading to an increase in discharge permit applications, putting pristine rivers and streams at risk. It’s time for Texas rulers to protect these state treasures. Click to Tweet

As one supporter of HB 4146 wrote in his comments to the House Environmental Regulatory Committee, “We are all united – Democrats, Republicans, school children, hunters, landowners with living water, landowners without living water. , residents, visitors – no one wants these virgins. polluted coves. “

Given this broad bipartisan support, the Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs is expected to hold a hearing and allow a vote on this bill this week. We cannot afford to wait any longer to protect these state treasures.

About Edward Fries

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