New Driftwood Golf Course Using Tons of Lake Austin Drinking Water

DRIFTWOOD, Texas (KXAN) — A new golf course in Driftwood has used millions of gallons of potable water to irrigate its course, and some neighbors aren’t happy about it.

It started as a concern from a viewer, and after some research, KXAN found it to be true.

KXAN has confirmed that the 800-acre Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club is a temporary water customer for the town of Dripping Springs. The city purchases water from the West Travis County Public Utility Association (WTCPUA), which is a wholesale water supplier.

The PUA said its records show the golf club began drawing water in July 2020 and has used 190 million gallons of water over the past two years.

They say the golf course is their biggest user of water right now.

Dripping Springs deputy city administrator Ginger Faught said this week that the facility began trucking 100,000 gallons of treated sewage per week from the South Region Water Reclamation Facility, and this will continue for 10 weeks.

But the city said that wouldn’t cover all the needs of the 18-hole golf course, and they would still be allowed to draw up to 640,000 gallons a day of the same drinking water as Dripping Springs residents. under the current drought policy.

This is where the golf course shot everything their irrigation water since this week.

Jennifer Riechers, general manager of the WTCPUA, said Dripping Springs began its contract with the golf club in August 2019 for up to one million gallons per day for 10 years or until the city of Dripping Springs can deliver 100% of the treated effluent to the course, whichever comes first.

Faught said the golf course had “significantly reduced” its water usage during this time to comply with Stage 3 drought restrictions, watering some areas by hand and not watering others areas.

She also said the golf course does not water directly from a drinking water main, but rather pumps from ponds to irrigate.

“This allows the golf course to draw water from the system during off-peak hours, reducing pressure on the city and PUA systems,” Faught explained in an email.

“Due to our close attention to drought conditions and our side-by-side work with the PUA, Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club is below our designated daily intake by more than 40%,” said spokesperson Caleigh Bressler. from the Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club. , in an email to KXAN.

How and why it started

The city, PUA and golf course say Driftwood is a temporary client of the PUA until they can use effluent from the Dripping Springs treatment plant.

“We are not drawing water from the wells for use on the course, which we have designed to take into account these conservation measures while we complete the five-mile connecting water line to the plant,” added Bressler.

Dripping Springs said the plan was still to use treated wastewater for the golf course, but they blame a Save Our Springs Alliance lawsuit for not being able to do so.

“The intention has always been to provide treated effluent, but ongoing litigation by SOS has significantly delayed the availability of treated effluent,” Faught said.

But Bill Bunch, executive director of SOS, said that was an inaccurate statement that his alliance had to challenge once it saw the city used the argument in a court filing.

“It was the first time we saw in writing that they were accusing us of, you know, what we might consider was a waste of treated drinking water to water a golf course,” Bunch said.

Bunch said their lawsuit only stops the city from dumping its treated tailings into Onion Creek.

He said there was nothing legally stopping Dripping Springs from using that treated wastewater on the golf course instead.

“They just sat on their hands and didn’t build the pipes that would allow them to deliver that treated wastewater to the golf course,” Bunch said.

The City of Dripping Springs refutes this.

“Their legal action absolutely frustrates our ability to provide treated effluent for beneficial reuse on the golf course. In fact, not only are Save our Springs Alliance protesting the landfill permit, they are also protesting a pending amendment to the TCEQ to expand our landfill permit. There is no doubt that SOS’s lawsuit and SOS’s protest against our pending amendment to our land application permit has affected the city’s ability to expand wastewater treatment in our area.

Ginger Faught, Deputy City Administrator of Dripping Springs

Even so, the city admitted that the contract with the golf course had still including providing them with drinking water for at least some period of time.

When we asked why they hadn’t tried trucking the treated sewage earlier, the city replied that they only worked on implementing a plan once the restrictions of the Stage 3 promulgated.

The court initially sided with the alliance and revoked the TCEQ landfill permit granted to Dripping Springs. The city is now appealing that decision. Bunch expects a court ruling within the next two months.

“Do you see how people – the neighbors of Dripping Springs might be concerned about this water usage? And what would you tell them? KXAN’s Tahera Rahman asked Riechers.

“They are allowed to, we monitor their use. And when we went to our stage three restrictions, we asked them to reduce even what they were hired for. And they were very cooperative and worked with us to monitor their daily water intake,” she said.

Riechers said there is no ruling prohibiting this use of potable water for the golf course.

Moratorium on the construction of Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs has struggled to keep pace with its growing population and sewage treatment for some time now.

The city declared a moratorium on construction in November 2021 after it reached sewage treatment capacity.

The latest council decision in May extended the sewage moratorium until September 2022.

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