League of Independent Voters of Texas

Dear #FIRST_NAME#Friends#: 

I just received this request from a few of our Fayette County members. They are asking that you take a minute to copy the letter below (add to it or edit it, if you wish) and that you send it to the TCEQ by Monday, 5 pm, requesting a public meeting.

We apologize for the late notice!

Please also note that we are sponsoring a forum in the Fayette County Judge's race in La Grange on Saturday, September 27th at 5:00 pm. Both Fayette County Democratic and Republican organizations -- and their respective candidates -- have agreed to participate. See details about this event right here.

We hope to see you there! Please invite others!

Here's that lettter:

September 11, 2014

Bridget C. Bohac
Chief Clerk, MC-105

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, Texas 78711-3087

RE:   Notice of Application and Intent to Obtain Water Quality Permit Renewal for the LCRA Fayette Power Plant, Permit No. WQ0002105000                       

Dear Chief Clerk:

            We are writing to request a public meeting to discuss the Lower Colorado River Authority’s (“LCRA”) application and intent to obtain a water quality permit for the Fayette Power Plant.  Each day across the United States, coal-burning power plants like the LCRA Fayette Power Plant dump millions of gallons of wastewater loaded with toxic pollutants like arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, and selenium into our rivers, lakes, and streams.  This toxic soup can be harmful to humans and aquatic life in even small doses.  This pollution is discharged directly from plants and waste pits; flows from old, unlined surface impoundments that many plants use to store toxic slurries of coal ash and smokestack scrubber sludge; and seeps from unlined ponds and landfills into ground and surface waters. 

            LCRA’s own 2010 annual groundwater monitoring report shows that groundwater near the coal ash ponds and a landfill at the Fayette Plant contains levels of arsenic, selenium, cobalt, and molybdenum exceeding Texas Protective Contamination Levels (PCLs) and federal Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs).  Selenium levels have reached more than 4 times the PCL and MCL, cobalt levels have reached more than 3 times the PCL, and molybdenum has exceeded the federal Life-time Health Advisory by nearly 4 times and exceeded the PCL in water down-gradient or cross-gradient of ash disposal areas.  Aluminum, chloride, manganese, sulfate and total dissolved solids exceed federal secondary MCLs. 

            Moreover, according to LCRA’s report, many of the groundwater monitoring wells are located within the shallow groundwater bearing Middle Sand Unit.  LCRA acknowledges that the “Middle Sand is believed to be in communication with the Cedar Creek Reservoir,” and that contaminated groundwater “could migrate beyond the boundaries of the [Fayette Power Plant] property.”  In short, pollution from the Fayette Plant’s leaking coal ash dumps could potentially impact water quality in the Cedar Creek Reservoir and nearby residential drinking water wells.     

            Despite this imminent public health risk, the current draft Clean Water Act permit fails to set effluent limits for almost all of the toxic pollutants found in coal ash wastewaters, or address the seeps and leaks from the plant’s coal ash disposal units.  In addition: 

  • The current Draft Permit does not set effluent limits for the numerous toxic pollutants that are regularly discharged in coal ash wastewaters.  Under the Clean Water Act, Clean Water Act permits must include technology-based effluent limits for all discharged pollutants.  Despite the fact that EPA has identified 27 pollutants found in coal ash wastewaters (including, aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, boron, cadmium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silver, sodium, thallium, tin, titanium, vanadium, yttrium, and zinc), the current permit for the Fayette Plant only imposes limits on one toxic pollutant—selenium.  The revised Clean Water Act permit must impose effluent limits that eliminate or control toxic discharges as required by law.     
  • TCEQ must also require LCRA to clean up and prevent pollution from its leaking coal ash disposal units.  Discharges, including leaks and seeps, of leachate from the Plant’s coal ash impoundments and landfills to surface waters and/or groundwater with a hydrogeological connection to surface water without a permit are prohibited by the Clean Water Act.  LCRA itself has identified concentrations of pollutants like arsenic, selenium, molybdenum, and cobalt at levels that exceed federal and state groundwater standards, and acknowledged that this pollution is occurring in groundwater that communicates with the Cedar Creek Reservoir and could migrate offsite.  The revised Clean Water Act permit must impose requirements to clean up and eliminate pollution leaks and seeps into hydrogeologically connected ground and surface waters.   

            In sum, it does not appear that the existing permit, if renewed, would comply with the federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”) or state law, including the Texas Water Code and the Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.  We respectfully request that TCEQ hold a public meeting to provide an opportunity for the public to address these critical public health threats. 

            Thank you for considering these comments and my request for a public meeting.


Your Name

Independently yours,

League of Independent Voters of Texas
PO Box 651 * Bastrop, TX 78602
512-213-4511 * 512-657-2089 cell