Sewer dooings: Local politicos slow to embrace anti-sewage bill

Return to Sender? Bexar Commissioners having a hard time making their mark.

Greg Harman

[email protected]

As far as bill language goes, House Bill 595 pending in the House Natural Resources Committee up in Austin is as plain as a one-sided coin. Clocking in at a mere 423 words, the bill to outlaw the discharge of septic water into creeks and streams over the contributing or recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer doesn't take much puzzling over to comprehend.

So why have our Bexar County Commissioners still failed to support it?

It's being carried by our hometown delegation. State Representative David Leibowitz (right) has it on the House side, and Leticia Van de Putte holds the companion bill in the Senate.

Your Commissioners were prepared to adopt a resolution in support of the bill early last month but held off after the building community came after them.

Becky Oliver, executive veep of the Greater San Antonio Builders Association, wrote the Commissioners in a letter dated February 10 that the bill would result in an explosion of “endless acres of onsite septic tanks” in the Hill Country north and west of San Antonio. And as everyone knows, “Individual septic systems have more potential for contaminating groundwater than do wastewater treatment plants with appropriate effluent standards.”

Besides, an unsigned letter on Real Estate Council of San Antonio letterhead, adds, shit is just plain good for creeks.

“Discharges have the advantage of providing a constant source of flow to the local creeks,” the realtors objection states, “rather than potentially piping it downstream â?¦ ”

It all served to gum the Commissioners works.

While many aquatic activists expected them to bring the matter back up for consideration at last week's meeting, there was no such luck.

Meanwhile, the Board of Directors at the San Antonio Water System has been slow to embrace 595, too.

Despite turning down a developer's application for the very fact they didn't want septic running down into the San Geronimo Creek â?? and ultimately the Edwards, San Antonio's primary water source â?? there has been no indication of when they'll weigh in.

At a monthly SAWS board meeting yesterday, Chairman Alexander Briseño said only that the board needed to take a position on the bill.

So, maybe give â??em another month.

Annalisa Peace of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance wasn't nearly as shy, saying the builders' letters were full of misinformation. “If the developers are so worried about septic then we invite them to work with us to make sure we get that taken care of.”

As currently stated, state rules on septic system prohibit much density, she said, and rural septic systems would still be able to use their “gray” water for irrigation under HB595.

A boisterous email making the rounds suggests the Commissioners may brave into those septic waters again at their next meeting: Tuesday, March 10. (We've been having trouble getting a call back to confirm/deny.)

Wade on over, if you're so inclined.

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