Mason County News
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008 • Posted July 2, 2008

July has just started, and certainly we will have much more hot and dry weather in the next few weeks, and so I would like to remind you that the City has asked our citizens to voluntarily comply with the alternate watering schedule when you are watering your yards and landscape.

We ask that if your house faces north or east you water on odd calendar days, and if your house faces south or west you water on even calendar days. Also, please consider watering between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. so that you allow our water system to “recharge” during the day. We are only experiencing moderate water problems and your help and contribution to water conservation will help to maintain the water resources for all of our citizens.

Our water system along with our landfill and sewer system are all regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, better known at the city offices as TCEQ. During the past several months we have had a variety of issues to deal with regarding the EPA and TCEQ regulations and our intent to comply with all of the myriad problems involved in running these various departments. For instance our Sewer Plant permit has to be reviewed and reissued every few years, and this spring was the time for us to reapply. After many pages of forms, a number of engineering studies and analysis, and making sure all of the requirements are met; we have filed the application and are now waiting for the renewal to be processed. Our water system has had two separate problems, and a couple of months ago the City Commission passed an ordinance to correct one and TCEQ has accepted it as satisfactory, and the new elevated water tower that we have contracted for will solve the other problem once it is completed later this year. We are also looking at ways to address the water quality problems that all communities around us, that supply water from the Hickory Underground Aquifer, encounter when the Radium 226 and 228 readings exceed the national standards. Our readings are just slightly above the regulations, and we are serious in trying to find a way to manage the level of Radium in our water that will not be unbearably expensive, and I hope that in the next several months we can identify some solutions that will provide our citizens water that exceeds the water quality levels mandated.

The other city department that is regulated by TCEQ is our landfill, and we are working diligently to correct some problems that have been identified over the past several years. Some of the problems that have been identified are easily solved, and all of those have been dealt with as we were made aware of them. However, the one issue that remains is the methane that our landfill, and every other place garbage accumulates, produce as the trash decays. We have a plan for an interceptor trench that will block the methane migration from affecting any other landowner, and that plan has been submitted to TCEQ for review and approval. As soon as it is approved the city will begin to work on the construction, and that along with some other planned additions to the landfill should meet all of our requirements for some time to come. Also, because of previous violations, the City has been fined although the amount was cut in half after we met and negotiated with them. I have also arranged that rather than merely paying a fine directly to the state government, we will be providing a Household Hazardous Waste collection for Mason before the end of the year. This will allow all of the citizens in our community and throughout the county to dispose of those chemicals and other hazardous garbage in a proper manner, and a contractor will be hired to deal with it correctly. Look for more information in the next couple of months. Thus, what seemed at first to be a problem for the city has been turned into a benefit for our community.

I wanted to take a minute to inform you of some of the ongoing issues we face as we deal with the environmental regulations. But most importantly I wanted you to realize that we are committed to finding positive solutions to the problems we face, and dealing with the regulations in ways that are positive for our citizens. It is always difficult to follow the rules made in Austin or Washington, but if we take a positive attitude and seek a beneficial solution then our community is improved and our town gains in the process. Sometimes it is difficult to see the positive in meeting all the regulations, but we at the city are committed to meeting and exceeding the rules we operate under and you the citizens will benefit with a cleaner and healthier community to call home.

Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley

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