TCEQ fines two Crossroads organizations for water violations

Sara  Sneath By Sara Sneath

July 2, 2014 at 2:02 a.m.
Updated July 3, 2014 at 2:03 a.m.

The state environmental agency fined two Crossroads' groups more than $10,000 for issues with their water processing.

Hochheim Prairie Hermann Sons Hall Association was fined $1,380 for levels of nitrate above the standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency and Bloomington Independent School District was fined $9,350 for failing to submit reports on the district's waste waster processing on time.

Over the last few years, people renting the Yoakum-based Hochheim Prairie Lodge, also known as Turner Hall, have brought their own water or used water purchased from H-E-B provided by the hall, Order of Sons Hermann president Janet Zabransky said.

"No one is drinking that water," Zabransky said. "Say for instance when we have a wedding there, well, they bring their own water. It's really not a problem. We're trying to work with these environmental people as much as we can."

The hall association is working with the state environmental agency to lower the amount of nitrate in the hall's water, which will likely include buying a new filtration system, Zabransky said.

Levels of nitrate in drinking water exceeding those set by the EPA can cause health problems, according to the agency. Nitrates most often enter drinking water sources through runoff from fertilizer use, leaking from septic tanks or sewage; and erosion of natural deposits, according to the EPA.

Though the hall association was fined $1,380, the whole penalty was deferred when the group took timely steps to comply with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's requirements.

To date, Hochheim Prairie Hermann Sons Hall Association has hired an engineering firm and completed a study identifying what needs to be done to come into compliance with agency nitrate standards, TCEQ spokeswoman Andrea Morrow wrote in an email Wednesday.

"As a little girl, I drank the water at Turner Hall. Forever, you could say. This is just something that popped up and we're having to deal with it," Zabransky said.

The group must continue to submit progress reports while it takes steps to reduce nitrate levels and, within 1,095 days, it must comply with the agency's nitrate standards.

Bloomington school district paid $7,480 last fall for missing waste water monitoring reports in 2012 . The remaining $1,870 of the fine has been deferred for the school district's prompt corrective action.

The school district's violations do not pose a health concern and were caused by inexperience on behalf of the previous waste water operator, superintendent Delores Warnell said.

"He was new. He thought he was reporting the DMRs correctly," Warnell said.

The district contracted Rene's Water Operations, which also services Austwell's water facility, in the spring to handle its water management, Warnell said.

The $7,480 fine came out of the school district's maintenance budget, which is about $200,000, Warnell said.



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