Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Trophy Club MUD Receives another Notice of Violation from TCEQ

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) website, on February 20, 2015, the Trophy Club Municipal Utility District (MUD) received yet another Notice of Violation for violations at the wastewater treatment plant.

According to TCEQ, these recent violations are the result of the MUD’s, “Failure to prevent the unauthorized discharge of wastewater from the collection system…”, “Failure to maintain the treatment units…”, “Failure to provide notification of any effluent violation, which deviates from the permitted effluent limitation by more than 40 percent.” and “Failure to maintain compliance with the self-reported effluent limitation for ammonia-nitrogen.”.

The data compiled by TCEQ indicates that the Trophy Club MUD has at least 34 violations over the last five years for similar failures to properly operate the wastewater treatment plant.

The latest Notice of Violation was clearly issued to the Trophy Club MUD at 1499 Indian Creek, yet the focus of the February 17 MUD meeting was the developer whose broken sewer pipe overloaded the treatment plant on January 22 and 23 of this year. Taxpayers and customers are probably extremely confused by these latest developments.

The evolving official story about these violations began withMUD Directors claiming in 2009 that the violations were a mistake in the database. By 2012 the story had permutated with Directors claiming that a surprise rule change by TCEQ had caught them off guard. Now in 2015 the story appears to be that third parties are causing the violations. Whatever the story, these well documented violations have continued to plague MUD treatment plant operations through the years.

This story most likely has no happy ending for the taxpayers and MUD customers.  TCEQ states, “The permittee reported three unauthorized discharges from the collection system totaling 7, 000 gallons since the last collection system focused investigation conducted on September 3, 2013.” This quantity of untreated wastewater is obviously bad for the environment and exposes the MUD to potentially severe monetary fines.  According to the EPA region 6 Clean Water Act website, violations of a permit condition can result in fines as high as $32,500 per day for each violation.

TRWD candidate withdraws

TRWD candidate, Andra Beatty, has withdrawn from the race and is said to be supporting Michele VonLuckner and Craig Bickley.

The ballot drawing was held this morning for the 5 candidates.

The VonLuckner and Bickley campaigns look forward to working with Andra and thank her for her interest and continued involvement in local politics!

Game on!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

MUD in Trophy Club

Incoming from Trophy Club-

Trophy Club MUD Future Clouded by Criminal Investigation, Lawsuits, Violations

Trophy Club Municipal Utility District (MUD) customers hoping for resolution of the MUD’s decades old wastewater woes got no relief from the discussions at the February 2, 2015 special meeting.

All directors were in attendance to hear details about the latest violations at the MUD’s wastewater treatment plant.  The violations occurred on January 22 and January 23 when untreated sewage bypassed the plant’s treatment system and flowed into a small creek that empties into Grapevine Lake.

According to the manager of the wastewater treatment plant, the bypass of the treatment system resulted in extremely high concentrations of E coli in the creek that were the highest possible for the analytical method used. Director Jim Thomas expressed concern that the resultant fine could cost the MUD as much as $200,000.

These violations could not have come at a worse time for the Trophy Club MUD.  Within the last two years the MUD has experienced a criminal investigation that resulted in a plea agreement with a wastewater treatment plant employee, an agreed enforcement order by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that levied a $50,000 fine and multiple lawsuits in Tarrant and Denton County against municipalities and developers.

At issue is the Trophy Club MUD’s very existence.  MUD Directors currently claim to need in excess of $9 Million to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant to meet permit limits.  Litigants opposed to the MUD have pointed out that the data supporting this expenditure is suspect; having been produced by a MUD employee who has confessed to falsifying the discharge monitoring reports the data comes from. The data somewhat supports these litigants as the violations in the past appear to have been more related to negligence than the size of the treatment plant.

In the past the MUD treatment plant was operated for approximately 17 years without a backup generator.  In some cases, samples to document compliance with permit limits were not even taken by the treatment plant employees.

MUD Directors compounded the problem by trying to cover up the issues.  As early as 2009, Director Steven Kohs was censured by the other Directors for discussing “non-existent violations” at the treatment plant. In affidavits submitted in a lawsuit against Director Kohs, Director Jim Hase and Kevin Carr both claimed to possess a letter from EPA documenting compliance at the wastewater treatment plant. Although it would appear to be a very valuable document for a permittee in the Trophy Club MUD’s situation, there appears to be no such document.

A quick look around the immediate area reveals future options for the Town of Trophy Club and Westlake that do not involve a MUD at all. The Trinity River Authority (TRA) operates a treatment facility within a few miles of the trophy club plant that has not experienced the compliance problems the Trophy Club Mud plant faces.  Current regulatory guidance available from TCEQ details the benefits a wastewater treatment plant in violation of its permit can realize by using a regional approach.

 If the MUD wastewater treatment plant beside Grapevine Lake were bypassed and the effluent instead routed to the TRA facility, for the first time in 40 years there would no longer be a need for a Municipal Utility District in Trophy Club. Not surprisingly, a Blue Ribbon Committee convened by the Trophy Club MUD Directors never even considered this published TCEQ guidance.

Although the TCEQ has the ability to issue a Cease and Desist letter to any permittee, this enforcement approach is rarely employed. A more likely outcome of these violations and resulting lawsuits is that the MUD’s customers and taxpayers will foot the bill.

On a positive note; at least two groups are seeing a windfall from all these problems.  Trophy Club MUD legal fees for the year are near $1 Million and MUD Directors convening special meetings are doubling their monthly meeting reimbursement.

Monday, February 9, 2015

More Fort Worth Dreaming

Or should that be scheming?

Sounds like the Trinity River Vision. Lots of talk, no money (aside from yours) and no need.

Lots of pomp and circumstance with no substance. Or as they say in Texas, all hat, no cattle.

And WHY would YOUR Mayor sign a confidentiality clause about a theme park?

Then again, this is not the first time a snake oil salesman has sold the North Texas rubes a Magic Kingdom...

Tale of Disney theme park for North Texas duped investors out of millions, prosecutors allege.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Tandy Hills Brush Bash Saturday February 7

The temperature should be in the 70s, with no rain in the forecast, for Saturday's re-scheduled, weather-delayed 2015 Brush Bash.

The brush has been cut and will be ready for volunteers to drag to waiting trucks for delivery to a composting facility. Your help REALLY makes a difference! Manly Men and Wild Women welcome.

WHO: Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area
WHAT: 7th annual Brush Bash
WHEN: Saturday, February 7, 2015  9 A.M. - Noon
WHERE: Tandy Hills Natural Area, 3400 View Street, Fort Worth, TX 76103
BRING: gloves, sturdy shoes, hat, water, lunch, tarps, rakes, small wagons, tools and...unwanted electronics. (see below)
CONTACT - RSVP: Don Young <donyoungglass@earthlink.net>

Coffee, tea & morning snacks provided.

He’s paid to say that…

Fort Worth never stops.  We’re back to we need another hotel and convention center.  WHO says?  “One of the nation’s top travel and tourism leaders”.  You know, the guy who gets paid to say things like – Fort Worth is so special.

You can read about it in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but you’ve heard it all before.

Fort Worth should expand convention center, add downtown hotel, travel expert says

A Message from Mary Kelleher

The Fort Worth Weekly 2nd Thought column was about the Trinity River this week. The column was written by Kendall McCook, titled Safety First.

A clarifying comment in response to the article from TRWD board director regarding Trinity River water testing.

Hi Kendall. My name is Mary Kelleher and I’m a director on the TRWD board. The TRWD used to only test the water in the Trinity River once a month but after I was elected I asked for more frequent testing, especially in the recreational areas. The water is now tested weekly and the results are posted online so people considering getting into the river can make an informed decision. Of course, the results are not in real time but what’s posted online give people an idea of recent conditions of the river.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Water Update

The Fort Worth Weekly fills you in on the latest in Dalworthington Gardens.  Pay attention, YOU could be next.

The politics of water can be … er … pretty dry stuff, unless of course you’re talking about the Tarrant Regional Water District, in which case it can be infuriating as well. But one Fort Worth suburb is challenging the TRWD for hosting the most dramatic public spats over water.

What’s it Worth to Save Dalworthington?

Monday, January 19, 2015

What's that smell? Part 2


Austin.

Go figure.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What's the Smell?


It's not the Trinity River this time. It's lunch.

We'll let Durango fill you in.

BS apparently goes for $70 these days.