Do Our Creeks Make Good Sewer Routes? (Posted By Mike Mecke)

Well, probably if you are a utility engineer or a utility manager, you may think they do.   Do city council members/mayors or county commissioners/judges really understand what they are voting for when they approve such projects with our money?  I wonder.  But what else can be said when the “lowest possible grade” is the best route for the huge 4 foot or more sewer lines and manholes in many towns and cities?  Seeing is believing. 

Come to beautiful Kerrville in the heart of the Hill Country.  See what city utility managers, engineers, and contractors think of their clear, spring-fed creeks and the Guadalupe River.  A current city project has just laid huge sewer line pipes along and IN the once beautiful Town Creek and Town Creek Lane.   No longer is it a pretty, clear flowing creek with nice oaks, pecans, sycamore and other trees and shrubs along it.   The drive along the creek – crossing it 4-5 times on low-water crossings and under nice shade trees is changed probably forever.   Looks more like Iraq now!

This creek is known for its wild floods downstream into Kerrville and the Guadalupe River – a major water source for thirsty residents.   And a popular swimming choice for residents and tourists alike.   This was also true for Town Creek – many swim and fish in its clear waters – or did.   Almost all pipelines eventually leak or break.   When one of these frequent floods swell the sewer lines and pop off the manhole covers (in the middle of the creek, by the way) isn’t that going to be nice – maybe thousands of gallons of untreated sewage flowing down the creek and right into the heart of Kerrville.  What about the pretty Riverside Nature Center at the junction of the creek and the Guadalupe and the hiking trails on the creek?  Then the river flows on to Center Point, Comfort and Canyon Lake.   Who will warn those folks or clean their water? 

Bet the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the  Authority would be just as concerned as the folks drinking from and swimming in those waters are – right?  

Not to mention, the loss of the complete riparian vegetation complex along the creek – grass, forbs, shrubs and trees.  Then the topsoil was replaced with caliche and left bare - very little silt fencing either – only where most visible from a main crossing at Schriner St.  Almost to late in fall for most reseeding now, even if good soil is replaced.  Riparian bank functions of filtration, binding of soil, wildlife habitat, creek shading, aquatic life food/cover, etc. are all gone.   Supposedly, a revegetation plan exists – was it planned and approved by experts knowledgeable in what native riparian plants should be used?  Not cheap and easy exotics like Bermuda and KR Bluestem grasses.  A major flood this winter or spring will be a disaster -  will not even be good for the engineering structures like bridges, roads, etc.  That could get expensive for taxpayers.

Another big question looms for Kerrville residents.   Apparently the city is approving new water hookups for new homes and building out to them or for the near future.   There is even recent talk about extending these utility lines much further up Town Creek along Harper Road north of I-10 to hook up new homes.  Kerrville gets much of its water from the river, which was down to about 14cfs this summer I believe – almost nothing.  Many Kerr residents are new to the area or even to Texas and see the broad “river expanses” through the town and think “all is okay” never realizing that is not the river, but a series of small dams creating long lakes thru town.  It would scare them maybe if they had seen the actual river bed flows!   The rest of Kerrville’s water comes from Trinity-Edwards aquifer wells which was way down too due to the current two year drought that put us into Stage III.  The aquifer still is not fully recovered in many areas – some rural well owners had water hauled to them this summer for drinking.   Hmmm, rainwater harvesting anyone? 

Sure, we have been blessed with great rains in Sept/Oct., but the drought may not be over and our water supplies have not yet recovered.  Even in the long 8-10 year drought of the Fifties, we had some good wet periods.  Many here in Texas were not around then or have not learned from the past.   And in the fifties, Texas was mostly a rural state still and Kerrville was really a small town with much lower water demands.  What about now or in 2030?

Where will all this new water come from – especially in long droughts that will come in the future?  Do you really want the pretty small towns you moved to when escaping the metropolis, to look just like that large, smoggy, high traffic city?   Most of us came to these towns to escape that!  Big is not better.   So, wake up folks and get involved.

T

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