Guadalupe County has a sore spot.
Despite eight years of fighting, regulators greenlit a landfill 12 miles east of Seguin.
Now, even though the land hasn’t yet been marred by trash, some people there feel dejected.
“Definitely with TCEQ for sure. They are there to protect our water and where this location is all that water runs off basically into a creek and into the Guadalupe River. I don’t think we fizzled out so much as we have done all we can do in efforts and financially,” said Kathy Brady, one of the more than 300 members of the nonprofit Stop Post Oak Dump.
Brady, who is retired from running a farm and ranch with her husband about three miles from where the landfill will be, is among the hundreds of people who started fighting the landfill almost as soon as Post Oak Clean Green Inc. asked for a permit in 2011.
Their concerns ranged from how the landfill would draw birds that would strike planes at an Air force base nearby to how it would increase traffic on roads not built to handle it to how it would contaminate the groundwater.
The landfill will be above the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer recharge zone.
The DeWitt County Soil and Water Conservation Board wrote that having the landfill there was “negligent and irresponsible.”
“We should be protecting our water, not polluting it,” the five-member board wrote to TCEQ in 2012.
But an administrative law judge ultimately found in 2016 that the landfill will be protective of human health and the environment, and TCEQ gave Post Oak a permit in 2018.
How soon the landfill will begin operating is uncertain.
The Advocate contacted Post Oak about this but did not hear back.
Its attorney, John A. Riley, also declined to comment.
People in Victoria don’t seem as upset as the people in Guadalupe County were.
For one, residents here who pump water from the ground are doing so from the Gulf Coast Aquifer, not the Carrizo-Wilcox, said Tim Andruss, the manager of the Victoria County Groundwater District.
And Ken Kramer, the water resources chair for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, said whether Victoria’s surface water will be affected will depend on the quantity and type of garbage the landfill accepts. The distance the landfill is from where Victoria withdraws its water from the Guadalupe River and how well the landfill is managed also matter.
According to its permit, the landfill can accept 300,000 tons per year, but increase over time to 710,000 tons per year.
It will be what the TCEQ considers a “Type I Municipal Solid Waste Management Facility,” which means it can accept brush, household waste, construction waste, industrial waste, and special waste, such as contaminated soils, dead animals, asbestos containing material, sludge, grease trap waste, grit trap waste, and empty pesticide containers. The landfill will sit on 1,000 acres that contain some wetlands and tributaries that go to Nash Creek, which drains into the Guadalupe River. Kramer estimated the landfill will be about 100 miles from where Victoria draws its water from the river.
“I think a city does have to be concerned about what pollution threats there are upstream if they are using the surface water for drinking water purposes, but I don’t see this as necessarily being a major threat to Victoria’s water supply unless there’s some kind of storm or flood event that disrupts the operation of the landfill and carries a lot of waste into the stream at a high volume and it moves downstream pretty quickly,” he said.
Kramer said people should focus instead on Post Oak’s track record of operating landfills.
This will be Post Oak’s first landfill.
Kramer said although the law protects the environment, TCEQ doesn’t have the resources to ensure companies comply with their permits.
“A lot of these facilities may not be visited that often to make sure they are operating correctly,” he said. “TCEQ often relies on complaints from neighbors and sends out inspectors in response to complaints.”
This year, a little more than $11 million was budgeted to for TCEQ to ensure companies who have air, water or waste permits complied with their permits.
There are 191 landfills in Texas.
Victoria’s landfill is actually closer to the river than Post Oak’s will be, according to Google maps.
In 2004, the Victoria landfill contaminated the groundwater with metals and volatile organic compounds, according to the joint groundwater monitoring and contamination report, which the TCEQ releases every year.