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Young Life camp withdrawals wastewater permit, will employ zero-discharge approach

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LoneHollow Ranch, a camp in the Vanderpool area owned by Young Life, a Colorado-based Christian organization, recently announced they will be withdrawing their wastewater discharge permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and moving forward with a zero-discharge water conservation plan.

The new zero-discharge plan, developed in a collaboration with the Cibolo Conservatory and also based on discussions with TCEQ, utilizes two complementary permits governing water usage on the property.

The first is a Texas Land Application Permit written to allow for Type 1-level treatment, the highest treatment standard for water.

The second is a chapter 210 reuse permit that will allow for treated water to be used for surface irrigation throughout the camp, including areas of human contact.

According to a press release from LoneHollow Ranch, previously available zero-discharge options would not have permitted the camp to use treated water for irrigation in all areas of the location, creating a need to use more groundwater for irrigation.

LoneHollow says its new plan will allow them to adopt a zero-discharge approach without compromising on Type-1 treatment or limiting areas where treated water could be used for irrigation.

“This new permit will allow us to achieve two goals for water management we have had from the very beginning of this process: to treat water to the highest standards for use in areas where there might be human contact, such as soccer fields; and reuse most of the water the camp generates for irrigation,” said Stacey Noll, camp manager of LoneHollow Ranch. “This plan accomplishes both of these goals in a way that wasn’t possible under previously available procedures.”

The camp’s TCEQ permit application had been met with controversy by groups like Bandera Canyonlands Alliance and the Bandera, Uvalde and Real County Commissioners Courts because it would allow LoneHollow Ranch to release treated wastewater into the Sabinal River.

“This is a great outcome for everyone involved,” said Merry Langlinais, President of the Bandera Canyonlands Alliance. “Young Life’s change to a zero-discharge approach allows the Upper Nueces River Basin to remain free of any permits that would allow wastewater discharge into our waterways.“

Brent Evans, Executive Director of the Cibolo Conservancy Land Trust that holds a conservation easement on the property, expressed his pleasure with the zero-discharge plan.

“Since the Cibolo Conservancy first started advising LoneHollow Ranch, it was clear they wanted to do what was best for the environment but felt limited by the permit options available to them,” said Evans. “We are grateful for the opportunity we had to search for creative solutions for LoneHollow Ranch. This process can now set a new standard for sensitive water management in the Texas Hill Country.”