Southwest Austin Dripping Springs Edition | January 2023


Dripping Springs seeking wastewater solutions amid lawsuit, rapid growth


Months after Dripping Springs ended a development moratorium that was initiated due to lack of wastewater capacity, the city’s plan to address the issue hinges on a favorable outcome in a lawsuit holding up a wastewater discharge permit.

Dec. 13 Court rules in favor of allowing Drippings Springs a permit to discharge and irrigate treated wastewater

May 21

June The Save Our Springs Alliance sues to stop Dripping Springs from using a permit to discharge treated wastewater into Onion Creek

Temporary moratorium extended another 120 days


From Nov. 18, 2021, to Sept. 18, 2022, Dripping Springs enacted a development moratorium to address capacity issues at its wastewater facility, during which any new development had to include its own wastewater treatment process. In 2023, the city is relying on a favorable outcome in a lawsuit regarding a state permit that would allow it to release and reuse treated wastewater. “The biggest issue for us with wastewater service is the lawsuit that we’ve been in with Save Our Springs [Alliance],” said Ginger Faught said, Dripping Springs deputy city administrator. She said that has stopped the city from imple- menting a Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System discharge permit, which it led for in 2015. The proposed discharge point for treated water— located near the intersection of RR 12 and FM 150—would be into Walnut Springs Creek, about a half-mile from its conuence with Onion Creek. The SOS, an environmental advocacy group, led a lawsuit against the city in 2019 after the Texas





Nov. 18 Temporary moratorium started as wastewater nears capacity

Feb. 20

Sept. 18

Jan. 28 Court to decide if it will rehear SOS lawsuit

Temporary moratorium extended 90 days

Temporary moratorium set to expire


Dripping Springs operates under a land permit, which requires the city to have enough land to disperse all of the treated wastewater, Reed said. The city would deal with most of the wastewater through benecial reuse, Reed said. In a statement, SOS leaders expressed disappoint- ment in the decision to rule in the city’s favor. “We believe the city of Dripping Springs should honor its purported commitment to never discharge its treated wastewater to Onion Creek by dropping the litigation and making this commitment binding under the law,” SOS leaders said in the statement.

Commission on Environmental Quality granted the city the permit to prevent discharge into Onion Creek. In 2020, the city appealed the case, and it went to court in El Paso in February 2022. The city received the court’s opinion Dec. 13, which ruled in the city’s favor. SOS has led for a rehearing in that same court. The court will announce Jan. 28 if it will rehear the case. This permit will also allow the city to implement benecial reuse—using treated wastewater for irrigation in common spaces—said Aaron Reed, Dripping Springs public works director.


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