SpaceX applies for wastewater permit; unused treated water would flow into South Bay

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SpaceX has applied to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for a permit to release an average of up to 200,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day into South Bay at Boca Chica.

The environmental group Save RGV said residents should submit their public comments and/or requests for a public hearing immediately, with a presumed deadline of Nov. 7.

The treated wastewater would by piped directly from a proposed treatment facility located approximately 1,000 feet west of the intersection of State Highway 4/Boca Chica Boulevard and Remedios Lane, according to a Notice of Receipt of Application and Intent to Obtain Water Quality Permit TCEQ issued Sept. 8.

SpaceX’s permit application is available for viewing and copying at the Port Isabel Public Library, 213 N. Yturria St. According to the application, SpaceX intends to re-use all treated water as reclaimed water, though “in the unlikely event that 100 percent re-use cannot be accomplished, the reclaimed water will be discharged to … South Bay.”

TCEQ said in the notice that the agency’s executive director has deemed the application “administratively complete” and will conduct a technical review of it.

“After technical review of the application is complete, the Executive Director may prepare a draft permit and will issue a preliminary decision on the application,” according to the notice. TCEQ said the public may submit comments regarding SpaceX’s application and/or request a public meeting on the proposed wastewater treatment facility.

“The purpose of a public meeting is to provide the opportunity to submit comments or ask questions about the application,” according to the notice. “TCEQ will hold a public meeting if the Executive Director determines that there is a significant degree of public interest in the application or if requested by a local legislator.”

TCEQ said a public hearing is not the same as a contested case hearing, which is a legal proceeding similar to a civil trial in state district court. The executive director will consider and draft a response to “all relevant and material, or significant public comments” received by the deadline, according to the agency.

“Unless the application is directly referred for a contested case hearing, the response to comments, and the Executive Director’s decision on the application, will be mailed to everyone who submitted public comments and to those persons who are on the mailing list for this application,” TCEQ said.

“If comments are received, the mailing will also provide instructions for requesting reconsideration of the Executive Director’s decision and for requesting a contested case hearing.”

For details about the status of SpaceX’s application go to tceq.texas.gov/goto/cid and search the database using Permit No. WQ0016342001.

Public comments and requests must be submitted electronically to www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/ or in writing to TCEQ, Office of the Chief Clerk, MC-105, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087.