The Town of Addison is in hot water with community leaders and residents of Farmers Branch, who claim that Addison and private developers have ignored state environmental regulations and as a result have damaged wildlife, vegetation and property values along Farmers Branch Creek.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is scheduled to consider arguments between the two sides at a public hearing on Wednesday, February 15 at the TCEQ’s headquarters in Austin. Interested residents from Farmers Branch have plans to privately charter a bus to accommodate the number of citizens who want to attend the hearing. Organizers are inviting interested residents to meet at Farmers Branch City Hall for a 6 a.m. departure Wednesday.
The battle between the neighboring cities flows from a water rights permit originally granted to
Addison in 2011 by the TCEQ. That permit allowing for the construction of a series of expansive water features in Addison as part of the Vitruvian mixed use development, located along the Farmers Branch Creek just east of Marsh Lane.
Under the permit Addison was required to replace the flow of water in the creek by tapping into the Trinity Aquifer, but Farmers Branch property owners downstream soon began complaining about a substantial decrease. At times during the past three years the creek has been nearly dry, although it is classified as a perennial stream by the United States Geological Survey, meaning there should always be water flowing.
“Rather than follow the TCEQ’s standards for water quality and flow downstream, Addison impounded that water and they turned what should be a healthy, free-flowing creek into a trickle at times,” says resident Todd Womble, whose home is on Farmers Branch Creek. “By restricting the water flow in Farmers Branch Creek, Addison is violating state law, harming a valuable ecosystem and causing nuisance conditions for residents, all to provide lakes and fountains for a private real estate development.”
An investigation by Farmers Branch discovered that, contrary to the permit, Addison is pumping water from the inferior quality Woodbine Aquifer. Additionally, the data raises questions about the number of hours and volume of water Addison is pumping to offset the evaporative losses.
“We need the existing permit to be followed and strong action taken to correct the problems and restore the environmental quality of Farmers Branch Creek,” says Deputy City Manager John Land. “Addison wants the state to ignore the ecological and aesthetic problems they’ve created and the violations of the original permit. We want the state to send a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.”
The TCEQ hearing will be held at 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building E, Room 201S in north Austin, beginning at 9:30 a.m.