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Students map sewage spill to protect Edwards Aquifer

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TWC News: Students map sewage spill to protect Edwards Aquifer
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Using data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas State Geography Students have created maps showing five years of waste water spills on and near land critical to the Edwards Aquifer.

"I don't think we were really sure what to expect at first, but it was pretty cool to see the results because all of the concentrations of the spills were within really obvious city boundaries," student Katie Tritsch said.

Just last week, there was a spill in southeast Austin that was reported to the TCEQ. Thanks to the Texas State students, the spill was mapped and tracked.

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, the study's sponsor, hopes this will help protect groundwater.

"These studies will be part of a larger overall study that we're conducting of the impact of sewage on our ground water resources," Annalisa Peace with the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance said.

The Texas State study shows building regulations in aquifer-sensitive areas have a positive effect on reducing the number of sewage spills.

"San Marcos and Austin have much more protective ordinances to protect the recharge zone, we did not see as many spills on the recharge zone as we did in San Antonio," Peace said.

The students hope their work will help lead to better protection for the aquifer.

"Give regulating authorities more information to work with when creating new legislation or deciding how to regulate the Edwards Aquifer which is very important," student Katie Steele said.

In all, close to 600 spills were mapped accounting for about 12 million gallons of wastewater in a five year period.

Thanks to the students work, those spills will be placed on an interactive, searchable map.

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