HLRGazette Archives

Relive some of our best stories.

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Lake Hawkins

E-mail Print PDF

By John Sparks

 At a public meeting Tuesday February 5, representatives of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and representatives of Fellowship Church heard the concerns of citizens from the Lake Hawkins area regarding plans to direct treated sewage waste water into Lake Hawkins. The church is constructing a large camp and retreat center at the northwest end the lake, which they had planned to operate this coming summer.

At issue is a permit that must be issued by TCEQ to the church for the waste treatment facility, and whether that permit could be amended and approved in time for the completion of construction on the waste water treatment system for the coming camping season.

The meeting was called by TCEQ in response to a petition with hundreds of local signatures and a formal request from the Wood County Commissioners Court. Precinct-3 Commissioner Roger Pace and County Judge Bryan Jeanes both attended the meeting.

The meeting began with a brief presentation from representatives of Fellowship Church who confirmed a proposed change in the original plan which would first direct the sewage treatment plant's effluent into a 12-acre lake on camp property. This lake, known as Wisenbaker Lake, would thus create a buffer and settling pond before the waste water found its way over the spillway discharge into Lake Hawkins.

The Fellowship spokesman advised the gathering that the proposed sewage treatment system is actually two systems (redundant) with two different sources of electrical power. "This," he suggested, "should prevent upsets of the system caused by mechanical failure or by electrical outages."

Such a change in plans for the discharge had been suggested by many of those critical of the original plan submitted to TCEQ by the church to place the treated water directly into Lake Hawkins. Those speaking for such a change included a spokesman for the Lake Hawkins Homeowners Association, by Ricky Rutherford, a developer and land owner who is offering home sites on and near the lake, by Commissioner Pace and by representatives of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TP&W).

During a free-wheeling question and answer session that followed the presentations, a wide range of concerns about issues from environmental quality, to water-borne bacteria resulting in human disease, to the loss of recreational use of the lake, to the threat to fish and wildlife, to increased nutrients for hydrilla and other undesirable plant life, and the negative impact on property values were expressed by many in the crowd of approximately 80 people. One speaker referred to Lake Hawkins as "our little Lake Tahoe." The meeting featured a number of emotional outbursts and raised voices.

After the Q&A session, citizens were then permitted to make more formal statements of concerns and/or submit written comments. Twenty-four citizens did so at the meeting. Among those submitting both comments and written concerns were representatives of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, who recommended a.) a review of the accuracy of the discharge point locations in the permit application, b.) a revision of the water quality standards assessment and modeling to incorporate the actual discharge route and c.) lowering the effluent limits.

No decision has been made on the permit by the TCEQ. And officials representing the agency cautioned Fellowship Church that they may have to start the whole application process over once again incorporating any and all changes to the waste water treatment facility and in plans to direct the effluent into Wisenbaker Lake.

A spokesman for the church did not comment on alternative plans for opening the new facility without an approved and operating sewage treatment facility.

Fellowship Church, located in Grapevine is a non-denominational congregation headed by Ed Young and his wife Lisa. Weekly attendance at the sprawling Grapevine campus is 15,000 to 20,000.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2009 15:04  

The only searchable local paper.