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Burnet to pay $7,500 fine for fish kill in Delaware Creek

Delaware Creek in Burnet

In August 2018, a water main break dumped 300,000 gallons of water treated with chlorine into Delaware Creek in Burnet, killing approximately 200 fish. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality agreed March 4 to allow the city of Burnet to pay a $7,500 fine toward a hazardous waste collection project. Staff photo by Alex Copeland

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on March 4 approved an agreement with Burnet for the city to pay a fine over the deaths of more than 200 fish in Delaware Creek connected to a waterline break.

After the August 7, 2018, break, about 300,000 gallons of chlorinated water was dumped into the creek.

Under the agreement, the city will pay $7,500 to a third party, the Texas Association of Resource Conservation and Development Areas Inc., for an ongoing household hazardous collection project.

“It wasn’t anything that anybody did wrong. It wasn’t anything else we could have done anything differently,” Burnet City Manager David Vaughn said about the break. “Simply, when a big waterline breaks in a creek, you get that much chlorine that goes in, something bad is going to happen. It was potable water. Just, fish aren’t meant to inhale chlorine.”

The main in question, located near Delaware Springs Boulevard, has been shut off since the spill, leaving the area serviced by one water main instead of two. The broken main runs under a large, 8-foot culvert, which makes it difficult to repair, Vaughn said.

“Because that line was so deep, it wasn’t safe for our employees,” he said. “We don’t have equipment meant to work that deep. So we were able to cut the line off and kill it and back feed the development from a different area.”

On Monday, March 9, a contractor will start repairing the break. Delaware Springs Boulevard from U.S. 281 to the Delaware Springs Golf Course will be closed for a week due to construction. People will have access to the golf course from Honey Rock Drive to the south.