BASTROP ALERT: Austin sludge may wind up in Cedar Creek

Message from Bastrop County: Don't Sludge Us, Austin

A company is trying to get a permit to dump Austin’s sludge on 2,000 acres in the Cedar Creek flood plain. Send a message: Don’t Sludge Us, Austin!

Update!  Make sure to attend a meeting about this being held on Tuesday, June 28th, 6:30-8 pm at the VFW, 1503 Highway 20, Rockne, Texas — especially if you live in Rockne, Red Rock or Cedar Creek. Spread the word!

Did you see this in the Statesman about the plan to dump sludge in the flood plain of the Colorado River? This company just pulled out of Fayette County (due to citizen opposition) but they still have a permit application on file with the TCEQ to dump in Cedar Creek (Bastrop County).

This map might be a better copy for you.

Rep. John Cyrier and Sen. Kirk Watson have asked Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a meeting for citizens to discuss the plan by Denali Water Solutions to dump treated sewage sludge (biosolids) from Austin’s Hornsby Bend on over 2000 acres of land in Bastrop County in the Cedar Creek floodplain.

It is VERY important that you post a request NOW yourself to the TCEQ to hold a public meeting on this subject and that you oppose it.

Simply request a public MEETING and tell them you oppose this or are concerned about it to the TCEQ at: (Note: be sure to use the permit number WQ0005197000).

Electronically (it’s faster) at: www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/

Or via regular mail to:

Office of the Chief Clerk, MC 105
TCEQ
PO Box 13087
Austin TX 78711-3087

Click here for a poster to be shared with local businesses, citizens and neighbors.

More detailed information on this project can be found at this excellent site — a work in progress: DontSludgeBastrop.info.

PPS More on the water front next week — that is the plan by water marketing companies to take water out from underneath Bastrop, Lee, Milam and Burleson counties to the I-35 growth corridor. This week’s hearing went fine and Lost Pines took no action….yet.

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12 Responses to “BASTROP ALERT: Austin sludge may wind up in Cedar Creek”

  • Christa Chagra:

    This is an absurd proposition, especially in light of all the recent flooding! There must be an alternative.

  • Linda Curtis:

    A number of folks in the affected area are researching that very point, and others. Meanwhile, we need everyone to make sure they ask for a PUBLIC MEETING from the TCEQ and to raise concerns about this. In and of itself, we’re told that sludge on land is not a problem, necessarily, BUT this appears to be a problem in its placement — to many people live nearby and it’s in the flood plain and on either side of Cedar Creek.

    The meeting is to request that TCEQ explain as much as possible to the community.

    We’re working on getting a meeting set up on or about June 28th. So, please sign in to get our email alerts if you aren’t already.

    Thanks!

  • Hi, Linda,
    Your alert about the Class A sewage sludge drove me immediately do some on-line research to find out what we are dealing with. It’s not as scary as it first sounded.

    The Hornsby Bend processing plant seems to be a top end processor. Good old Austin… weird, but Green!

    Class A sludge (according to the EPA definition) is dry solids in which all toxic elements have been reduced to “undetectable levels”. This includes bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals.

    I sure wouldn’t eat a spoonful of it! Neither would I eat dirt. But I wouldn’t hesitate to eat vegetables grown in it in my garden. And I probably have.

    So, if the strong South wind blows some of this stuff a couple of miles from the spread zones to where I live in Cedar Creek, I won’t be concerned.

    Thank you for keeping us on top of things.

    Bill Nogues,
    Cedar Creek resident

  • Linda Curtis:

    Hi Bill, I would urge you to look at this:

    Also, check out much more in this at DontSludgeBastrop.info

    Mainly, I really don’t like the idea of this being in a flood plain or the Cedar Creek river and waterways in Cedar Creek. You might come to our meeting next Tuesday at the VFW in Rockne and ask the folks who will be leading this meeting. It’s those “undetectable levels” that will get you every time — especially in Texas!

    Best! Linda

  • Andrea Haschke:

    I would urge the local community to get reports on the levels of heavy metals, etc. in the sludge. In Houston they tried doing this to a nearby community and discovered there were very high levels of arsenic and mercury. Community fought back and won. There is probably good reason Fayette County fought and won. It would seem prudent to find out what Fayette County learned and why they refused.

  • Linda Curtis:

    Thanks Andrea. We’re attending the Fayette County group’s meeting tomorrow to do just that. What group in Houston fought it and won? Much appreciate your chiming in. Linda

  • Linda Curtis:

    Also, make sure you visit the information site at DontSludgeBastrop.info. You will find this document about what’s in sludge:

  • Beverly:

    Linda, I appreciate the work you do but, in this case, I think you may be panicking unnecessarily. As I understand it, approximately 1/3rd of the sludge currently produced from Austin’s biowaste is ALREADY being used to make Dillo Dirt… that wonderful compost that we pay a small mint to buy and spread in our gardens!

    Biosolids (i.e. “sludge”) are a great natural resource. They can and SHOULD be “recycled” to recondition soils and add needed nutrients back to the earth.

    One would obviously not want a lot of loose material spread all at once so that in the event of a flood, it all washed downstream. But, one would have the exact same objection to plowing or otherwise moving a lot of soil around. Any activity that scrapes the plant cover OFF of a large area creates potential “wash out” issues.

    In this case though, the application indicates that the plan is to spread the sludge (biosolids) and then till it into the ground where the nutrients it contains will be used to grow winter ryegrass, and oats.

    As long as the sludge is clean of pathogens and harmful heavy metals and the stuff is applied at a slow enough rate that the grasses have time to grow and keep the materials in place in the event of a flood, I’m not sure I see what you’re worried about. And, it appears from the application form that ALL of the above are true.

    As I read the application form (and it IS very long and complicated so I suspect that very few people will bother to read it!) the concentrations of heavy metals in the sludge are WAY WAY WAY below concentrations believed to be harmful. It appears that, at an application rate of 6 tons per year per acre, it would take over 265 YEARS for even the most concentrated of the heavy metals to reach an application rate high enough to be of concern.

    The suggested application rates appear to have been chosen specifically so that the biowaste will provide the level of nutrients NEEDED to grow grains in the application area. And that’s a much better method of getting those needed nutrients to the grains than applying artificial fertilizers would be.

    It seems to me that, rather than fighting this proposal, we should be supporting it as a GREEN “recycling” project. Much as we don’t like to think about it, our solid human wastes do HAVE to go somewhere. IMHO, this is nothing more than a large scale “Dillo Dirt” project. In fact, if you think of the sludge as

    Just because the good citizens of Fayette county got spooked by the “very idea” of spreading sludge on the ground doesn’t mean this is a bad project.

    Again, I thank you for all the work you do and I’m grateful that you take the time to alert citizens to potential hazards. However, on this issue, I think you may be crying “wolf” unnecessarily. I urge you to look more deeply into the entire matter.

  • Darwyn Hanna:

    Linda,
    I am coming to the meeting at the VFW Rockne and need the time for the meeting. I am a walking example of 70 years of IGNORANCE of a FREE gift from the sun and I will come with a sack over my head to illustrate the point and when I take the sack off I look worse!!
    IGNORANCE is a small price to pay for some things that may be irreversible.
    Darwyn Hanna
    1460 FM 20
    Cedar Creek, TX 78612
    512-303-7715

  • Linda Curtis:

    You are welcome always, Darwyn — you’re a local hero in our book!

  • Linda Curtis:

    Hi Beverly. Thanks for writing about this. We’re going to discuss these issues at the meeting. BTW, this is not “Class A” sludge — like in Dillo Dirt. It’s “Class B”. It’s bad stuff to put around water resources, or so we think. You are most welcome to state your case at the meeting, of course! Best, Linda

  • Skeptical Person:

    https://bioscienceresource.org/sewage-sludge-biosolids-land-application-health-risks-and-regulation-2/

    Harrison, Ellen Z. “Features: Investigation of Alleged Health Incidents Associated with Land Application of Sewage Sludges” New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy 12.4 (2003): 387-408.

    Documents numerous reports of health incidents from people around the country who live near sewage sludge application sites. Reported health incidents ranged from “headaches and respiratory problems to death.” The researchers found that “Compliance with the regulations does not ensure protection of public health.” They suggest that “surface-applied Class B sludges present the greatest risk and should be eliminated.” They also advise reconsideration of land application of Class A sludges. Class A sludges have undergone additional treatment intended to reduce pathogen levels compared to Class B sludges. Class A sludges are tested for 2 pathogens and 10 metals and can be applied to land without restriction.

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