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Posted on: April 10, 2018

City to contest Addison violations on Farmers Branch Creek

TCEQ 900 x 900

FBTX ~ The Farmers Branch City Council will contest the Town of Addison's request before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to legitimize their permit violations concerning use of water on Farmers Branch Creek where it briefly flows through Addison at the Vitruvian Development, east of Marsh Lane and behind Brookhaven College.

   In 2011, Addison unlawfully drilled a well to an unpermitted aquifer to replace surface water lost to evaporation where they have ponded the creek at the development. In addition to inconsistent replacement pumping, the unpermitted Woodbine aquifer can introduce pollutants into the creek that has effects on water flow and ecology downstream in Farmers Branch. Meanwhile, Addison has filed a request with TCEQ to modify their permit in order to make legal their illegal actions.

   In a hearing last year, TCEQ commissioners expressed concern over the situation.

   "I'm troubled by what I see as (Addison's) willful non-compliance with our statutes and regulations," said TCEQ Commissioner Jon Niermann. TCEQ Chairman Bryan W. Shaw added, "This (Woodbine Aquifer) groundwater has actually introduced pollutants into state surface water. The evidence supports that conclusion."

   When attempts to reach a compromise with Addison failed, including the Farmers Branch Council's offer to pay approximately 40 percent of the cost to bring them into compliance, Farmers Branch served notice that they will be contesting the permit modification request in Austin. Additionally, Addison residents will no longer be issued Farmers Branch Library cards and use of the Farmers Branch Senior Center by Addison residents will cost an annual membership of $500 each. City Manager Charles Cox also informed Addison officials that they may no longer store dead animals at the Farmers Branch Animal Adoption Center and that a sanitary sewer connection to Addison will either need to be metered or capped in 60 days. At this point, there is no date set for the contested case hearing.

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EXCERPTS FROM TCEQ HEARING | Video at http://www.texasadmin.com/tx/tceq/agenda_meeting/20170215/

 

   In a hearing held on February 15, 2017, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality commissioners discuss the situation and have specific comments on Addison’s action.

   A discussion of the commissioner’s findings begins at 1:13:25.

Commissioner Jon Niermann (beginning at 1:14:35):

   “I’m troubled by what I see as willful non-compliance of TCEQ statutes, regulations and terms of the permit and I agree that the proposed penalty is too low.”

Chairman Bryan W. Shaw (beginning at 1:16:45):

   “Specifically look at the violation for unauthorized impoundment of State Water - state water was actually impounded – I think there’s evidence that appears that there was actual harm occurred based on the evidence that we’ve seen that occurred as a result of this violation especially given that this unauthorized impoundment occurred during the time of a drought.”

(1:20:33)

   “This respondent (Addison) made no effort to come into compliance.”

   Then, of course, there is Addison’s continued assertion that use of the non-permitted Woodbine Aquifer facilitates water leaving Addison into Farmers Branch cleaner than it arrived. Chairman Shaw plainly refutes that:

Chairman Bryan W. Shaw (beginning at 1:20:55):

   "While the respondent Woodbine Aquifer groundwater meets the Texas water quality standards when co-mingled with surface water, the October 2014 investigation report states that the October 8, 2014 sampling of well water did not meet the water quality standards. The respondents October 6, 2014 letter and the 2014 investigation report both show groundwater from the Woodbine Aquifer, that has been used as makeup water since at least August 1, 2012, based on sampling, this groundwater has actually introduced pollutants to state surface water.”

   Finally, Addison is insistent that they are pumping more than the required amount of makeup water since 2013. However, they fail to mention that prior to 2013 there was a period of almost two years when they pumped no water at all (Chairman Shaw’s note on unauthorized impoundment during the time of a drought).

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