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Nixon officials say ‘no’ to human waste disposal site
NIXON -- One Nixon-area family is taking a stance for the health and welfare of Nixon’s citizens, after a neighbor filed for a permit that will allow the permit holder “to apply domestic septage at agronomic rates on approximately 298.3 acres” in Wilson County. The domestic septage includes human waste acquired from local residential septic systems and Porta Potties. (See “What is domestic sewage?” page 4A for details of what the sewage may contain.)
According to an amended notice from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the applicant, Gordon Swenson of Austin, applied for the permit in October. The proposed site is located on C.R. 483, approximately 8,900 feet south of the intersection of U.S. 87 and South Rancho Road in Nixon. Due to its location within Wilson County, the TCEQ has mailed a copy of the application for registration with this notice to the Wilson County Judge. Interested parties can view the document in Judge Marvin Quinney’s office, according to Dawn Barnett, Quinney’s secretary.
J.D. Story and his family, who own the Story Ranch near the proposed site, oppose this measure and have created a website, www.savenixon.org, and have addressed entities in Gonzales County. The website offers information on the project, and invites visitors to sign a petition against the project.
Story approached the Nixon City Council Dec. 10 to express his concerns. As Story approached the council on an “information-only” basis, according to Nixon City Administrator George Blanch by phone Dec. 14, the council could not address the matter with a resolution. Instead, Blanch said, the council asked him to instruct the city attorney to send a letter to the TCEQ stating the city’s opposition to the proposal.
Story also approached the Nixon-Smiley Consolidated Independent School District Dec. 19. The school district is located in Wilson and Gonzales counties, and the proposed site lies within the district’s boundaries. According to Dr. Cathy L. Lauer-Booth, the district superintendent, the board approved a resolution against the proposed site. See “Resolution” for excerpts.
The board also authorized the superintendent to:
•Submit the resolution to TCEQ by Dec. 31;
•Sign the Storys’ petition on behalf of the district;
•“Take any other lawful actions to prevent the dumping of hazardous waste on properties adjacent to or within the proximity of District campuses.”
Landowner speaks out
The Story family is speaking out against using domestic sewage this way.
According to Story, Swenson “has registered ... to dump more than 22 million gallons of raw human sewage annually on this site. I believe this will create a substantial health risk to those located near this site and downstream ... .”
“I believe that it will be impossible for him to properly treat and apply such a large amount of sewage effectively,” Story said Dec. 7. “There are no facilities in place to properly test, contain, or administer this waste.”
Story alleges that no treatment will be used on the raw sewage received, other than to raise the pH to 12 by adding lime.
He also is concerned about the additional traffic in the area. The amount of raw sewage to be received, according to Story’s website, is 7,500 truckloads annually, with the annual application listed at 76,923 gallons per acre, per year.
Story also expressed concerns about the watersheds in the area.
“The water from this site will flow from the site watershed into Elm Creek and Willow Creek, into the Sandies Creek and Guadalupe River. It will cross multiple counties,” Story said. “I believe that it is very likely that contaminated human waste will find its way into local groundwater supplies. as well as the Guadalupe River.”
Not in Florida
According to Story, Florida “has banned the disposal of raw human waste because experience has shown that there is a probable risk of contamination to both surface and groundwater.” Florida banned the use in 2010.
View Story’s presentation at www.savenixon.org/. To sign the petition, visit http://www10.tceq.texas.gov/epic/ecmnts/.
What is domestic sewage?
The following terms are found in the instructions for completing Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Domestic Wastewater Permit application:
•Domestic Septage: “Either liquid or solid material removed from a septic tank, cesspool, portable toilet, Type III marine sanitation device, or similar treatment works that receives only domestic sewage. Domestic septage does not include liquid or solid material removed from a septic tank, cesspool, or similar treatment works that receives either commercial wastewater or industrial wastewater and does not include grease removed from a grease trap.”
•Agronomic Rate: “The whole sludge application rate (dry weight basis) designed: (A) to provide the amount of nitrogen needed by the crop or vegetation grown on the land; and (B) to minimize the amount of nitrogen in the sewage sludge that passes below the root zone of the crop or vegetation grown on the land to the groundwater.”
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
“WHEREAS, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is currently accepting written comments regarding the Gordon Clifford Swenson permit, registration number 710926; and
“WHEREAS, the dumping of domestic waste within this District’s boundaries and within close proximity to this District’s schools presents a danger to public health and to the health of our population, especially children whom this District serves, could contaminate this District’s drinking water, would create noxious odors that would be detrimental to the learning environment; and
WHEREAS, the risks associated with dumping domestic waste within this school district’s boundaries could result in other serious student health risks.
“... said application should be denied. Additionally, the Board of Trustee respectfully requests a public hearing to prevent the site registration.”
Source: Dec. 19 NSCISD proclamation
Your Opinions and Comments
William J. Gibbs Jr.
December 26, 2012 10:20am
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