Permit application for sludge disposal in Milam County withdrawn

Tons of toxic sludge will not end up in Milam County, near Gause after an Arkansas company’s application for a state disposal permit was withdrawn, the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District (POSGCD) reported.

The POSGCD board opposed an application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) by a biosolids management company for a permit to annually dispose of up to 7,000 tons of sludge in the county.
According to the TCEQ website, the permit application filed Dec. 29, 2015 by Denali Water Solutions of Russellville, Ark. was withdrawn March 25.
A public notice about the application was published in The Cameron Herald on Jan. 21 inviting interested parties to comment on the application and/or request a hearing. In addition, a copy of the application was placed on file for public view at the Cameron Public Library.
According to the data on the TCEQ website, the commission received 14 comments on the application, one hearing request and three public meetings before the application was withdrawn. Once the case was closed, documents were no longer available.
The POSGCD was among those contacting the commission about the application for a beneficial land use permit “to authorize the land application of wastewater treatment plant sludge and water treatment plant sludge for beneficial use on approximately 1032 acres.” The proposed site was located adjacent to the south side of FM 2095, approximately 1.8 miles east of the intersection of FM 2095 and FM 3242, in Milam County.
In a March 16 letter to the TCEQ, Barney L. Knight, the POSGCD’s general counsel, noted “very material concerns” about possible contamination of the Calvert Bluff Aquifer which is within the boundaries and jurisdiction of POSGCD.
Mr. Knight’s letter raised questions about the possible disposal of sludge containing pathogens, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and other toxic waste over the outcrop of the aquifer. The letter, which noted that thousands of square miles throughout Texas do not overlie aquifers, followed an analysis by POSGCD’s hydrologist, INTERA, and a unanimous vote by the POSGCD board to oppose the application and proposed permit.
“The district has from its inception recognized that our goal is to ensure the aquifers remain a viable resource for all future generations,” POSGCD General Manager Gary Westbrook said in a press release, “With that in mind, we were compelled to urge the TCEQ to deny the wastewater and sludge permit application for this possible disposal site. We are pleased that the application has been withdrawn.”