Bryan City Council Passes Ordinance As Part of An Application To Ban Drilling Shallow Water Wells In One Section Of The City

Image from the city of Bryan showing the proposed MSD area where new water wells up to 100 feet would be banned.
Image from the city of Bryan showing the proposed MSD area where new water wells up to 100 feet would be banned.

For six years, city of Bryan staff has been working to designate groundwater through a strip in the middle of the city as unacceptably contaminated and cannot be used a potable water source.

The Bryan city council at Tuesday’s meeting, without discussion, unanimously approved an ordinance that is required with the city’s application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to establish what is called a “Municipal Setting Designation”, or MSD.

At an update during the Bryan council’s February 9 workshop, the council was told the designation is the result of prior contamination at three locations.

Because there are no registered water wells in the MSD area, the property owners of more than 1,600 parcels of land were not notified.

The council was told that all properties located within the MSD are served by, or have access to, the Bryan public water system. According to city staff, “There is no interaction between the shallow groundwater sources of the MSD and the City’s drinking water. The City’s drinking water is captured from sources located 1,800 to 2,700 feet below ground surface with considerable distance from the MSD.”

Notification was made to the owners of 417 private supply wells in a five mile radius, along with the city of College Station and the Wellborn special utility district.

If TCEQ approves the MSD, future wells would have to be more than 100 feet deep and require approval of the city and the local groundwater district.

The three known areas of groundwater contamination in the proposed MSD are:

(1) Arkema Project [201 W. Dodge Street) (TCEQ SWR No. 31695), where the pollutant of concern is arsenic,

(2) 200 N. Main Street (TCEQ VCP No. 778), where the pollutants of concerns are Benzene, TPH, 1,2-Dichloroethane, 1,1-Dichloroethene, and

(3) 600 N. Main Street (TCEQ VCP No. 2421), where the pollutants of concern are volatile organic compounds and chlorinated hydrocarbons.

Click HERE to read and download the staff presentation during the February 9, 2021 Bryan city council workshop.

Click HERE to read and download background information presented during the March 9, 2021 Bryan city council meeting.

Click HERE to read and download the MSD ordinance that was approved during the March 9, 2021 Bryan city council meeting.

There were no public speakers during the March 9 or February 9 city council meetings. There was one speaker at the March 11th College Station city council meeting who asked the council to rescind its support of the city of Bryan application.

Two opponents to the MSD ordinance contacted WTAW News.

Former Bryan councilman Mike Southerland wrote:

The Bryan City Council is at it again, on the City council agenda for today, the team is going to designate an area in Bryan that although the ground water cannot be used because it is contaminated, –OK to use if the citizens do not drink the water. Sounds good but it is not.

The motivation to administratively clear the area, not for citizen safety but so there is no obstruction to building the super park.

The problem for residents is that the ground water evaporates on the surface and contaminates the surface. Contamination is still there, and it will be in the form of dried dirt in the heart of Bryan.

The City Council is not responsible for what they do so they do not have to worry about the contamination or the grief that they leave people after they make these decisions. I bet, you if the council were made to pay for their mistakes, they would be more careful.

The team needs to be required to clean this area up and make sure it is safe for everybody for years to come. And who knows that 100 foot of groundwater may be necessary for survival later. The deep groundwater and the shallow groundwater are interactive at times. One forces the other upward or forces the other down depending on the drought conditions.

Please write the state and ask for cleanup not cover up. Pay attention to what the team is doing and make sure they do not make you pay the price for their poor understanding and inexperience.

Just Remember the Public Utilities Commissions and the snow. The council’s decision will have the same impact, although not frozen.

From Bryan resident Robert Rose:

The results of a successful MSD application will be significant for many Bryan property owners.

I have the proposed ordinance, notification letter, diagrams of the arsenic plume making it’s way from the former Elf Atochem site.

I think almost no one is aware of what this means for their property values, ability to re-sell. Ability to use their property, cannot grow food using their groundwater, etc.

The other aspect is that there are indications that the plume is spreading, possibly 20-30 feet per year, in a South and Southeasterly direction. So towards College Station.

Over time the MSD will have to expand if there is no remediation.

My concern is more for the hundreds of property owners who stand to be impacted and don’t know this is coming, and haven’t had a chance to comment.

And property owners in College Station I think too need to know that there is a groundwater plume potentially headed their way so they can be informed citizens and decide if this is what they want for their community.

Click below for comments from the February 9, 2021 Bryan city council workshop meeting:

Listen to “Bryan city council passes ordinance as part of a request to ban new water wells up to 100 feet from being drilled in one section of the city” on Spreaker.

Click below for comments from Robert Rose, speaking during the March 11, 2021 College Station city council meeting: