Neighbors fight plans to discharge wastewater from youth camp in Texas
In San Antonio, Texas, Commissioners Creek is important to the residents in the area. However, it is even more vital to the Blackwell brothers who raise about 18 cattle on property that has been in their family for more than 100 years.
According to The Rivard Report, the creek flows 5 ½ miles through ranches before joining with the Hondo Creek downstream.
“You can always see the bottom,” Charles Blackwell said to The Rivard Report.
The brothers now say the creek is at risk from a Christian youth camp that is under development. According to The Rivard Report, the camp’s owners are seeking a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to discharge a maximum of 49,000 gal per day of treated wastewater into the creek.
According to The Rivard Report, residents in the Hill Country said the region’s creeks are so clear that the nitrogen and phosphorus will lead to algae growth that choke off fish and other aquatic life.
“Hill Country streams are too clean and their flows are too small to put wastewater in them without degrading their character," said Sky Lewey, resource protection and education director of the Nueces River Authority, at a Nov. 8 panel on wastewater effluent at Schreiner University.
According to The Rivard Report, camp owner Chris Torn said he met multiple times with neighbors to hear concerns. While the permit application is for a maximum of 49,000 gal per day, the actual discharge will be more like 15,000 gal per day at most, according to Torn.
The Torns would build a treatment plant on their property that could process the waste from camper and staff, if approved by the TCEQ. They already run a camp is Arkansas called Camp Ozark that Torn said draws more than 6,000 campers during the summer season.
“What we want to do is be good neighbors, and we intend on doing that,” Torn said to The Rivard Report. “We’ve always been that way. We’re happy to look at other alternatives, but … we’d like for everybody to extend us the same courtesy and listen to our experts on what they say.”
According to The Rivard Report, Torn would not answer questions about what effect their discharge would have on Commissioners Creek.