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Group Formed to Protect Trinity, Edwards Aquifers and SpringsFebruary 25, 2015 19:19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Group Formed  to Protect Trinity,Edwards Aquifers and SpringsFebruary 25, 2015
    TheTrinity Edwards SpringsProtection Association (TESPA)today announced its formation as a Texasnon---profit corporation createdto protect these aquifersand their associated springs. In the process, TESPA seeks to bring clarity to the groundwater propertyrights associated with owning land over the Trinity and EdwardsAquifers and associated springs.
     TESPA was formed as a responseto the attempt by a private company– Electro Purification --- to develop and sell 5.1 million gallonsper day of groundwater from the TrinityAquifer...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Group Formed  to Protect Trinity,Edwards Aquifers and Springs
February 25, 2015

    TheTrinity Edwards SpringsProtection Association (TESPA)today announced its formation as a Texasnon---profit corporation createdto protect these aquifersand their associated springs. In the process, TESPA seeks to bring clarity to the groundwater propertyrights associated with owning land over the Trinity and EdwardsAquifers and associated springs.

     TESPA was formed as a responseto the attempt by a private company Electro Purification --- to develop and sell 5.1 million gallonsper day of groundwater from the TrinityAquifer. The ElectroPurification project will harm adjacentneighbors who are totally dependent upon private wells in the Trinity for their water supply. However,the issues to be addressedby TESPA go beyond the dispute with ElectroPurification to includemore general protection for springs throughout centralTexas springs which are the key to the survival of Texas’ beautiful flowingstreams and to property valuesand the use and enjoyment of private property.

    According to Vicki Hujsak,President of TESPAand a resident of the Lone Man Creek watershed, “The Electro Purification proposal has made us all aware of how vulnerable our groundwater resources are. We all depend upon this water and we neverimagined it couldbe taken away from us but it apparently can. We have made up our minds to fight back throughthe legal system.”


    “TESPA plans to focusits legal effortsunder two key approaches initially” said Jim Blackburn, a TESPA board member and property owner in the Lone Man Creek watershed. “First,the Edwards AquiferAuthority has failedto take regulatory authority over the ElectroPurification proposal and we disputethat determination based on the many interconnections betweenthe Edwards and Trinity Aquifers throughthis fractured limestonegeology. And second,we believe that there is a fundamental conflictbetween the TexasSupreme Court’s rulingin the Day case and the way that the Rule of Capture works with regardto groundwater. These are controversial issues and we intend to pursue them in the court system.”

    Malcolm Harris, a Wimberleyresident and Austinattorney working with TESPA, adds “The court system is an appropriate placefor this disputeover the extent and nature of property rightsin water. Courtshave been adjudicating property rights since they began,and we will seek a court ruling better defining and protecting the property right in groundwater that the Texas Supreme Court undertook to affirmin the Day vs. EAA case.”

    Inthe Day case, the Texas Supreme Court determined that groundwater was the property of the surfaceowner even if they had not drilledinto the aquifer and captured the water.  They also stated that they were applying the rule of capture, even thoughthat concept, as interpreted in the 1999 Sipriano Case, allows the drainingof a neighbors’ groundwater.

    According to Jeff Mundy of Austin,lead counsel for TESPA, “The neighbors of this proposed well are in danger of their own water wells going dry. If this corporation can drain 5 milliongallons a day for profit,and leave the adjacent homes with dry water wells and people with not even enough to drink, cook, and bathe, who is next?When will electedofficials protect citizens?”

    “The Texas Constitution is clear that the Legislature must pass all laws appropriate to preserve and conserve the natural resourcesof the state,” says Vanessa Puig-­Williams, an attorney and member of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, “but the Legislature has not adequately done so with respect to groundwater in Texas,and now people’sprivate property rights are in jeopardy.”

    More generally, TESPA hopes to set in motion a protective umbrellathat covers much of the Texas Hill Country. According to TESPA directorPeter Way of the Cypress Creek and Blanco River watersheds, “These springs are the lifeblood of this country.Without water, this land loses the wonderfulcharacter that all of us love. Our long term goal is to develop and implement strategies to protect our groundwater and springs.”

    “Many springs in the Texas Hill Country, such as Jacob’sWell, are related  to water movements through the Trinityand Edwards Aquifers”said David Baker Executive Director of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, an organizational memberof TESPA . “This complex  geology defies the current regulatory system.We seek a more comprehensive view of this groundwater system and its relationship to springs and surface water.Sustainable management of all water is what we have come togetherto advocate for.”

According to President Hujsak,“TESPA is currently planning to file suit to protect the RollingOaks area immediately adjacent to the Electro Purification proposed project.  We are building an organization that we hope will lead the fight for years to come. The one thing we have learned so far is that we will lose this groundwater if we do nothing. We must fight for it.”

 
Posted: February 25, 2015 19:19   Go to blog
When Will Austin’s Swimming Holes Dry Up? by Lani Alvarez on February 18, 2015February 22, 2015 20:11
RootsRated Stories How Central Texas aquifers (and pumping them out) affect your outdoor recreation For those of us who swim, paddle, fish, hunt, or simply just enjoy the flowing waters of Central Texas, no water means no play. While aquifers—those vast underground rivers—remain mysterious and unseen far below us, they have a huge impact on our everyday life. Not just for drinking and showering, but for recreation as well.

In addition to water playgrounds like Barton Springs, take Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, for example, one of the finest swimming holes in Central Texas...
 
How Central Texas aquifers (and pumping them out) affect your outdoor recreation
For those of us who swim, paddle, fish, hunt, or simply just enjoy the flowing waters of Central Texas, no water means no play. While aquifers—those vast underground rivers—remain mysterious and unseen far below us, they have a huge impact on our everyday life. Not just for drinking and showering, but for recreation as well.

In addition to water playgrounds like Barton Springs, take Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, for example, one of the finest swimming holes in Central Texas. For the first time in history, the spring, which is fed by the Trinity Aquifer, dried up completely in the year 2000. Then it happened again in 2008.
Years ago, it would be impossible to descend more than two feet below the surface because the spring would bubble you up with incredible force. Parents would toss their children into the well smiling and without fear, confident they’d bob right back up. Some historians even say that in past centuries the spring would shoot as high as 30 feet above ground! This was all because of the strong aquifer flow.
But now, due to major development in the area as well as drought and overpumping, all we have are distant memories of the past and ongoing measures in the present to address water conservation and quality of the aquifer. Yet, even attempts like these don’t ensure protection. On Feb. 10, a furious crowd overflowed the Wimberley Community Center to demand that state Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) put an end to a commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County. The project is planning to pump 5.3 million gallons of water each day from the Trinity Aquifer and, for a pretty penny, sell more than a million gallons a day to the city of Buda. But action to stop the project remains to be seen.
People packed the Wimberley Community Center Feb. 10 during a town hall meeting with Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, to demand a stop to the commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County, but unless changes are made, the project could still pump and sell precious aquifer water. Lani Alvarez
Underlying this conflict is a critical issue highly likely to boil up in increasing frequency across Texas as water resources diminish and the population swells. “No natural resource issue has greater significance for the future of Texas than water,” says Dr. Andrew Sansom, executive director of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.
Everyone knows rain in Central Texas is sporadic, unpredictable and, more often than not, infrequent. Now stop for a moment and imagine if we had to rely solely on rain to keep our rivers and creeks flowing. For almost two decades now, Texas has suffered under record drought. And as we already are seeing in many spots, some of Austin’s best paddling trails may become a lot less enjoyable in shallow, still water. Fortunately for us, aquifers capture and store rain and release water over time into our rivers, streams, and springs. And yet, such aquifers are threatened by projects like the one near Wimberley.
The view from a glass-bottom boat tour on Spring Lake, which is fed by the Edwards Aquifer. Lani Alvarez
“Think about Spring Lake in San Marcos and Barton Springs in Austin,” says Louie Bond, editor-in-chief of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. “All are fed by these underground bodies of water—all are in danger of drying up if we empty the aquifers.”
Even though the Trinity aquifer, which the controversial project is targeting, may seem relatively distant from Barton Springs, it is intricately linked. The Trinity aquifer feeds the Blanco river, and during droughts, the Blanco feeds Barton Springs much of its water, according to Nico Hauwert, senior hydrogeologist for the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department.
To put this connection in real context, “If the baseflow to the Blanco river near Wimberley were to cease,” reported Hauwert, “Barton Springs could dry up in three months.”
Texas blind salamander: The only place in the world this endangered species can live is deep within the Edwards Aquifer. It is completely blind because its eyes are not needed in the darkness of the aquifer. Lani Alvarez
 All aquifers in our region affect our outdoor recreation. Swimmers, divers, paddlers, anglers alike—all are impacted by the water that is or is not in Central Texas aquifers. Additionally, there’s the impact this would have on endangered species that are entirely dependent on these springs, such as the Texas Blind Salamander that lives only in the Edwards Aquifer. Whether you love diving into a deep well of water or simply observing the wildlife around you, this is an issue that affects you directly.
So when will Central Texas water playgrounds dry up? It seems that’s up to us.
Here are just a few ways you can do your part to help preserve our aquifers:
  • Voice your concern about aggressive pumping. Visit SaveOurWells.com and consider signing this petition. If you’re in Buda or Wimberley, or almost anywhere in Hays County, you may be directly affected by the current controversy over Electro Purification’s aggressive water pumping from the Trinity aquifer.
  • Learn about your aquifer authority or groundwater conservation district. You vote for your board members—find out who shares your goals for a healthy aquifer and who might have less-than-pure motivations for controlling how much is pumped.
  • Grow food, not lawns. Today lawns are the largest modern water wasters. How about planting some butterfly- or bird- attracting plants instead? Or food for yourself. When your neighbors see the wonderland you’ve created, they’ll want one of their own.
  • Xeriscape. Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping and gardening that utilizes water-conserving techniques. More than half of our fresh water supplies go to landscaping, so this method is highly promoted in drought-sensitive Central Texas.
  • Join a citizen science group, such as the Texas Stream Team, that is dedicated to learning about and protecting the 191,000 miles of waterways we have here in Texas.
  • Read up on other ways to conserve water, such as the Water—Use it Wisely website, which offers nearly 200 water-saving tips that you can download, print, and even share on social media.
Posted: February 22, 2015 20:11   Go to blog
LCRA: Current drought worst on record for Central TexasFebruary 19, 2015 13:31
AUSTIN (KXAN) – The ongoing drought impacting Central Texas’ Highland Lakes is the worst the region has experienced since the lakes were built in the 1930s, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority presented at a Wednesday meeting. Preliminary LCRA data shows the Highland Lakes are in a new “critical period,” drier than the 1947-57 drought previously considered the worst on record. The Highland Lakes include lakes Travis, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ and Austin. Lakes Travis and Buchanan serve as the primary water supply for the city of Austin and several other Central Texas cities...

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The ongoing drought impacting Central Texas’ Highland Lakes is the worst the region has experienced since the lakes were built in the 1930s, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority presented at a Wednesday meeting. Preliminary LCRA data shows the Highland Lakes are in a new “critical period,” drier than the 1947-57 drought previously considered the worst on record. The Highland Lakes include lakes Travis, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ and Austin. Lakes Travis and Buchanan serve as the primary water supply for the city of Austin and several other Central Texas cities.

Due to dry weather and the low inflow, the Highland Lakes’ firm yield, which is an inventory of water LCRA can provide reliably every year, has been decreased by about 100,000 acre-feet, to 500,000 acre-feet per year. And the firm yield could continue to drop, according to LCRA data. An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

Six of the 10 lowest inflow years have all happened since 2008.

“We’re in a historic drought like we’ve never seen in our lifetimes,’’ LCRA General Manager Phil Wilson said in a prepared statement. “Even in these conditions, however, lakes Travis and Buchanan remain significantly above their all-time lows, thanks to smart water management decisions and excellent water saving efforts by our customers throughout the lower Colorado River basin.”
The LCRA manages the Highland Lakes and lower Colorado River. The river authority also generates power for the region and operates area parks, among other responsibilities.

On  Wednesday, the lakes contained about 717,000 acre-feet, or 36 percent of capacity. That’s nearly 100,000 acre-feet more than the 1952 all-time low combined storage of 621,221 acre-feet, or 32 percent of capacity. The revised estimate of the firm yield changes the amount of water available for sale in the future, but does not impact existing contracts, such as those held by the City of Austin and other firm customers, according to the LCRA.

“LCRA has water available to meet all our existing contracts,” Wilson said in a prepared statement. “The good news is the reservoirs are doing what they were designed to do – capturing water when it rains, and holding it for use during droughts.”

LCRA will work on expanding its water supply further, Wilson said, including the construction of a new reservoir near the coast. LCRA began building the Lane City Reservoir in Wharton County in late 2014. The reservior is expected to hold 90,000 acre-feet of water and be completed in 2017.
The firm yield is unrelated to trigger levels in the 2010 Water Management Plan that determines how water is divvied up among customers during drought. The plan sets out three triggers that must be met before the LCRA Board issues a Drought Worse Than Drought of Record declaration. Those triggers are:
  • 24 months since lakes Travis and Buchanan were full.
  • Prolonged low inflows worse than inflows during the 1947-57 drought.
  • Combined storage in lakes Travis and Buchanan at less than 600,000 acre-feet.
If the LCRA declares the current drought to be worse than the drought of record, it would cut off Highland Lakes water for certain customers and impose water-use cutbacks of 20 percent for firm customers. Current estimates show combined storage could potentially hit 600,000 acre-feet in May or June.
Posted: February 19, 2015 13:31   Go to blog
PEC Press Release February 18, 2015 10:27
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                              Feb. 17, 2015MEDIA CONTACT: Kay Jarvis, (830) 868-4961; media@peci.com
PEC Board votes in support of groundwater legislationAt its Feb. 17 meeting, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted unanimously in support of legislation on groundwater production. The vote is a show of the Board’s stance on this issue, which is an important one for communities within the Co-op’s service area.  The Texas Water Code recognizes that a landowner owns the groundwater beneath the land...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                              Feb. 17, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Kay Jarvis, (830) 868-4961; media@peci.com

PEC Board votes in support of groundwater legislation

At its Feb. 17 meeting, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors voted unanimously in support of legislation on groundwater production. The vote is a show of the Board’s stance on this issue, which is an important one for communities within the Co-op’s service area.  
The Texas Water Code recognizes that a landowner owns the groundwater beneath the land. It also allows for the creation of groundwater conservation districts in order to protect natural reservoirs against “wasteful or malicious drainage.”
By resolution, the PEC Board states that the boundaries of these districts are not consistent with the hydrogeology of Central Texas and that unregulated aquifer areas exist which are vulnerable to the commercial drainage of groundwater from beneath a landowner’s property.
“Well drillers are locating these gaps in water district jurisdictions and exploiting them for pure profit,” said PEC District 6 Director Larry Landaker, who sponsored the resolution. “What is happening in Hays County through the misuse of the rule of capture is tantamount to the theft of water by one community to serve another. … That volume of water could … create a serious economic impact to the Hill Country communities we serve. Economic impact to the Hill Country is economic impact to PEC.”
The Board called for legislation to establish the proper local regulation of commercial and non-exempt groundwater production in Hill Country aquifer areas which are currently outside of existing conservation districts. It also agreed to communicate its support to the Texas Legislature and specifically to State Representative Jason Isaac, who is currently working on legislative solutions to address this issue.
“Reliable energy and water supplies are essential for the homes and businesses of our service area. We must all remain committed to protect our groundwater resources for the future of the Texas Hill Country,” said PEC Board President Dr. Patrick Cox. “It’s in PEC’s best interest to support the best interests of its members.”
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Posted: February 18, 2015 10:27   Go to blog
House Concert benefiting WVWA - registration is liveFebruary 17, 2015 11:58

  Chick MorganPlease join us March 21st for this fun evening of entertainment by Chick Morgan to support the water stewardship programs of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association. Only 30 seats available! “Jazzed For Justice” is the brainchild of the WUUHOOs (Wimberley Unitarian Universalists Helping Others Out). We are members and friends of the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, all living in the Wimberley Valley area. Our purpose is to support local issues of justice and sustainability, in keeping with Unitarian Universalist values...

ChickMorgan1

  Chick Morgan

Please join us March 21st for this fun evening of entertainment by Chick Morgan to support the water stewardship programs of the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association. Only 30 seats available! “Jazzed For Justice” is the brainchild of the WUUHOOs (Wimberley Unitarian Universalists Helping Others Out). We are members and friends of the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, all living in the Wimberley Valley area. Our purpose is to support local issues of justice and sustainability, in keeping with Unitarian Universalist values. For this concert, we have selected the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association for our donations. Nobody has worked harder to protect this vital resource in our area.


WVWA-logo


Register Today!

Posted: February 17, 2015 11:58   Go to blog
Texas Tribune Article About Isaac EP Wimberley Meeting 2/10/2015 Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to ComeFebruary 11, 2015 16:15

Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to Come  
Feb. 11, 2015, by Neena Satija   photo by: Axel GerdauWIMBERLEY — Hundreds of people packed a community center Tuesday night to demand that state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, stop a commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County. Not that there is much he can do to stop it...

Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to Come  
Feb. 11, 2015, by Neena Satija 
     photo by: Axel Gerdau
    WIMBERLEY — Hundreds of people packed a community center Tuesday night to demand that state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, stop a commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County. Not that there is much he can do to stop it.

    But their wrath underscored an issue likely to flare up repeatedly across the state as water supplies dwindle and the population keeps growing: Texas' approach to managing groundwater is increasingly incompatible with the demographics and growth patterns of the state. And possible solutions are hard to find amid bruising local politics, deep-pocketed business interests and small-government-minded legislators.

    If the town hall meeting called by Isaac is any indication, the fights will not be gentle. 
    The community center was decorated with signs that read "EP go home!!!" and the cheeky, "They pumped paradise and put up a subdivision." Public officials and an angry crowd used the meeting to shame those who would profit from the Hays County deal. "We don't want you here. We want you to leave," said Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, pointing directly at Tim Throckmorton.

    Throckmorton owns Houston-based Electro Purification, or EP, which is planning to pump more than 5 million gallons of water each day from the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County, where no groundwater regulator has any authority. That's far more water than has ever been pumped in the region, and area hydrologists fear it could have devastating effects on the wells most nearby residents rely on.

    Conley's verbal assault drew cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd. And a presentation from Clark Wilson, who is building a community of homes and hopes to buy EP's water, drew jeers from the audience. "Apparently, none of y'all live in my homes," he said defiantly, while people laughed at pictures of his planned neighborhood complete with green lawns, a lake and a neighborhood swimming pool. 

    Throckmorton, too, looked embattled. "Our customers have come to us and asked us, can we come up with a solution to their problem" of a water shortage, he told the audience. "And at this point, we're not sure we can." Hydrologists who spoke before Throckmorton acknowledged that wells near EP's may go dry because of the company's pumping. 

    The controversy has spurred residents into action all over the county, but especially in the Rolling Oaks subdivision, a neighborhood of about 300 families just a few miles from the proposed well fields. Signs that read "Save Our Wells" and "Stop the Water Grab" are planted in many front yards, and cars sport bumper stickers reading "Buda, please don't suck us dry." (EP wants to sell its water to the fast-growing city of Buda and new planned subdivisions in the area, including Wilson's.)

    "It's been a political awakening for us," said Dan Pickens, a marketing executive who has lived in Rolling Oaks for 20 years. "What's the value of a home with no water?"
    Pickens and his neighbors say their wells are already unreliable in the midst of severe drought, and they deserve protection. But on the flip side, some say, landowners also have the right to sell the water beneath their land for a profit. And that's exactly what two families in the area have decided to do, using EP as the marketer. 

    "That is always the irony of property rights proponents, just to be blunt," said Russ Johnson, who represented one of the landowners who is selling their water to EP. "What really makes people bat crazy, and correctly so, is ... not everybody can share."

    The solutions offered so far are myriad, but limited. Several landowners say they'll fight attempts to send the water pipeline across their property. And Isaac has proposed legislation that would give the Texas Water Development Board some say over wells in unregulated areas like where EP is drilling.
    But that's unlikely to happen, said Brian Sledge, a water lawyer who lobbies for the Texas Water Conservation Association, one of the largest water interest organizations in the state. For decades, the Legislature has left local groundwater districts to decide who can pump water and how much they can pump, not the state. "I can't think of a better system," he said.

    It's more likely that Isaac will be able to extend the boundaries of one of the neighboring groundwater conservation districts to include the area where EP is drilling. And Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell, whose district also includes the region, told The Texas Tribune on Tuesday that she would support such legislation.
    Still, that isn't a silver bullet. If EP has already started producing water, no district could retroactively cancel its ability to do so. If the district tries to limit how much water EP can pump, it's likely to end up in court. That means the district needs to have ample financial resources — and the Legislature is unlikely to have the appetite for giving local regulators any more power to tax or charge groundwater production fees.

    A more practical solution, said lawyer Russ Johnson, is to start accepting the fact that some people's wells will be impacted. EP has offered a "mitigation plan" of sorts, which could involve paying well owners to lower their pumps if the project causes their water supplies to dry up. And the city of Buda, which hopes to buy 20 percent of the EP water, has promised to be a part of that.

    But how much that will cost is impossible to know, because even EP acknowledges that the impacts of pumping are still unknown. "The effect of the pumping can only be known by long-term pumping and monitoring of the aquifer response," the company said in documents prepared for Buda.
    That's a wild card for Buda, which may have to budget more for the project if mitigation gets expensive, said the city's mayor, Todd Ruge. "I just want a chance to show them that we are a good neighbor," he said of those who oppose the project in Rolling Oaks and elsewhere. More than 1,500 properties and seven utilities that rely on groundwater are located near EP's well fields, local officials say.

    Donald Lee, director of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties, said there's a much larger problem that needs to be addressed: growth occurring outside the jurisdiction of cities. The new subdivisions that EP wants to sell water to, for instance, aren't under the jurisdiction of Hays County or any nearby cities. So no one has any real authority to make sure growth proceeds prudently. 
    Giving counties more authority to regulate growth would be a big help, Lee said, but it's not clear if that will happen anytime soon.

    "Growth isn't unsustainable if we don't screw it up," he said. "But right now, there's pressure to screw it up."
    Posted: February 11, 2015 16:15   Go to blog
    HAYS PROPERTY OWNERS ALERT!- Town Hall Meeting on Electro Purification Water Mining- Tuesday Feb. 10th 6:30pmFebruary 09, 2015 22:21
    IMPORTANT MEETINGS ALERT
    for Hays Property Owners
    CARD urges all citizens, property owners and business owners of Western Hays to speak up for their private property rights and speak out against a plan with a clear potential to harm all of us.It's very important that property owners attend these upcoming meetings - just by attending you show our representatives the massive concern for this issue - and let your concerns be known...
    IMPORTANT MEETINGS ALERT
    for Hays Property Owners
    CARD urges all citizens, property owners and business owners of Western Hays to speak up for their private property rights and speak out against a plan with a clear potential to harm all of us.
    It's very important that property owners attend these upcoming meetings - just by attending you show our representatives the massive concern for this issue - and let your concerns be known.
    Representative Jason Isaac Town Hall Meeting on Electro Purification Water Mining in Hays County, Tuesday, February 10 at 6:30pm, Wimberley Community Center  
                                  SIGN ONLINE PETITION TO STOP WATER MINING HERE

    Tuesday, February 10th - Hays County Commissioners Court Meeting, 9:00am (Hays County Courthouse, room 301) FILL OUT QUESTIONS IN ADVANCE HERE-

    Wednesday, February 11th - Hays-Caldwell Public Utility Meeting, 3pm (Kyle Public Works Building, 520 E. RR 150)

    Thursday, February 12th, - Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, 6pm (Manchaca Volunteer Fire Dept, 655 W FM 1626, Austin)

    Wednesday, February, 18th - Goforth SUD, 7pm (8900 Niederwald Strasse, Kyle)

    Thursday, February 26th - Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, 6pm (Church of Christ, 470 Old Hwy 290, Dripping Springs)
    Check this website (hayscard.org) and SaveOurWells (saveourwells.com) website to stay current with future meetings to attend, new articles, and other action steps you can take.



    CALL TO ACTION for Hays Property Owners 
    What’s the truth about the Electro Purification wells issue?
    True: 5.3 million gallons a day of our Trinity Aquifer water is to be taken and sold elsewhere –doubling what is currently being withdrawn.
    True: That huge amount of water would put many Western Hays County wells, streams and springs in danger.
    True: Houston-based Electro Purification’s exploitation of a regulatory loophole to grab Western Hays water is legal.
    NOT TRUE: There’s nothing we can do. Continued...
    Our Water and the Threat to the Heart of Our Existence
    by Patrick Cox, PhD 
    (1/30/15)
    Hundreds of residential wells in the Trinity Aquifer are threatened by Houston-based company Electro Purification (EP). This private company has secured contracts to provide water from the Hays Trinity aquifer for a minimum of 1.9 billion gallons a year to several public entities and developments - which equates to 5,830 acre feet of water. If one acre foot fills about 22 average size swimming pools, that's more than 128,000 swimming pools - almost unimaginable. Download the complete essay for actions we need to take...
    HOW TO TAKE ACTION...
    Information about meetings to attend; elected representatives and other players to write or call.
    SaveOurWells.com 
    Website devoted to the unregulated pumping threat to Trinity Aquifer

    (Power Point on geologic setting and projected water level decline here)
    A Houston Company, Electro Purification (EP), has drilled unregulated commercial wells near FM 3237 and FM 150. The proposed pumping exceeds 5 million gallons per day - greater than the combined total of the Wimberley Water Supply, Aqua Texas, and Dripping Springs Water Supply. Continued...
    Posted: February 09, 2015 22:21   Go to blog
    Explainer: The Hays County Water DealFebruary 03, 2015 15:59

     

    Monday, February 2, 2015 by Michael Kanin
    DevelopmentExplainer: The Hays County Water DealEach week, the Explainer offers a closer look at stories we have been following. This week we look at the Electro Purification water deals coming out of Hays County.
    As Andy Sevilla has reported over the past 10 days or so, Electro Purification — a Houston-based company — is looking to pump nearly 2 billion gallons of water annually out of the Cow Creek Formation of the Trinity Aquifer through a well the firm sunk in western Hays County....

     


    Monday, February 2, 2015 by Michael Kanin

    Explainer: The Hays County Water Deal

    Each week, the Explainer offers a closer look at stories we have been following. This week we look at the Electro Purification water deals coming out of Hays County.
    As Andy Sevilla has reported over the past 10 days or so, Electro Purification — a Houston-based company — is looking to pump nearly 2 billion gallons of water annually out of the Cow Creek Formation of the Trinity Aquifer through a well the firm sunk in western Hays County. The spot Electro Purification chose appears to have been selected for at least one major reason: It is, as Sevilla reported, “located on property just outside the jurisdiction of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and the Hays Trinity Conservation District near Wimberly.”
    In other words, Electro Purification found a hole in the regulatory patchwork that Texas grants to authorities that govern the use of groundwater in the state. To be clear: This is perfectly legal. But it’s also enough to have Republican Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley calling for action “to be taken to fill in that white zone.”

    Texas water law is notoriously complex. Some water rights trace back to before U.S. annexation, others are governed by quasi-governmental river authorities, such as the Lower Colorado River Authority — which is responsible for the surface water that runs through Austin — and still others are subject to nothing more than the “rule of capture” law perhaps best (simply) described by Daniel Day Lewis’ Daniel Plainview character from the film There Will be Blood as “drinking milkshakes.”
    Written concern about water supply in the Western portion of the United States goes back at least as far as John Wesley Powell, who in the latter portions of the 19th century argued that only a fraction of the region “could be sustainably reclaimed.” (More on Powell, a later examination of water in the West and a 2010 study of water in the West from UCLA is here.)

    In October, a dramatic vision of all that came courtesy of the San Antonio Water System, when the San Antonio City Council approved a $3.4 billion, 142-mile pipeline that will ship 13.4 billion gallons of water a year from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer underneath Burleson County. (Water infrastructure costs are a subject for another day.)

    The San Antonio project is roughly eight times the Hays project in terms of sheer water volume. However, the same regulatory principles apply. According to the Texas Water Development Board, groundwater — the legal definition of the stuff that’ll be used by both the San Antonio and Hays County projects — accounts for “about 60 percent” of the water used by Texans. The board assigns Groundwater Conservation Districts within Groundwater Management Areas to regulate usage in those regions. And though some have long called (and worked) for further regulatory authority in the Central Texas region, that has yet to happen.

    And that brings us back to Electro Purification and Hays County. Because there is no active groundwater conservation district in the region of the Trinity Aquifer where the company has placed its well — and despite significant local opposition — there is no specific local regulatory mechanism for the project. It’s all enough to have the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer District looking into annexation of well areas in the region — though this could, as Kara Nuzback reported this morning, prove problematic.

    Still, just because a regulatory authority exists does not mean that ambitious projects such as these would be tempered. Indeed, the groundwater conservation districts in Burleson County — from whom San Antonio would ultimately be purchasing water — is a partner in the pipeline project.
    Posted: February 03, 2015 15:59   Go to blog
    The Water Wars of Hays CountyFebruary 03, 2015 15:43


     
     
     



             
     
    Our Water and the Threat to the Heart of Our Existence
    By Patrick Cox, Ph.D.

    Everyone should understand the tremendous importance and impact of the water wells that are now being drilled in the heart of Hays County.  This issue has made people a lot hotter than Willie Nelson's Picnic on the Fourth of July...


     

     

     




     
     
     
     
     

     

    Our Water and the Threat to the Heart of Our Existence
    By Patrick Cox, Ph.D.

    Everyone should understand the tremendous importance and impact of the water wells that are now being drilled in the heart of Hays County.  This issue has made people a lot hotter than Willie Nelson's Picnic on the Fourth of July.  But this act deserves this type of heat and concern - it's a thrust into the heart of our very existence.

    Hundreds of residential wells in the Trinity Aquifer are threatened by Houston-based company Electro Purification (EP). This private company has secured contracts to provide water from the Hays Trinity aquifer for a minimum of 1.9 billion gallons a year to several public entities and developments - which equates to 5,830 acre feet of water.  If one acre foot fills about 22 average size swimming pools, that's more than 128,000 swimming pools - almost unimaginable.

    That's a lot of water by anyone's measure.  Based on news reports and independent analysis, the EP reports of available ground water is highly suspect.  Furthermore, they have seriously undercounted the number of private wells in the surrounding area that rely on water from this segment of the aquifer.  Yet the train keeps rolling.

    To further illustrate this audacious act, if EP is withdrawing approximately 5 million gallons of water per day, this is more than double the average daily pumpage of water from Wimberley Water Supply Corporation, Aqua Texas, and Dripping Springs Water Supply combined.  And all of that water will be gone forever.  This action clearly ignores Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code that confirms that a landowner, including a landowner’s lessees, heirs, or assigns, is entitled to produce groundwater below the surface of real property, “without causing waste or malicious drainage of other property."

    The EP plans are the "rule of capture" taken to its most extreme and by any measure provides a real threat to our livelihood.

    If successful, this project will not only significantly alter the future of Hays County.  This will send a clear message to everyone in Texas and beyond that any entity can take all the groundwater they can pump, ship it anywhere, make a lot of money, and leave a lot of people and businesses high and dry.  This sounds like a tall Texas tale - but it's a hard reality.

    This move not only shows disrespect for the thousands of people who rely on groundwater as their primary source of water.  This is also a calculated scheme to find a loophole in the law, launch a fast and unpublicized plan, and once discovered, create panic and put neighbors at odds with one another in a fight that should never have happened.  Anyone remember the movie Chinatown?

    So what should we do?  Throw up our hands because these clever folks have outsmarted us and are living by the law of the biggest pump.  No - there are some essential actions to take right now.  And with this crisis, we can also look beyond this initial battle to a more definitive set of solutions that will help not just people in Hays County but all of Texas.

    For the immediate future, here's what we need to do:
    • call and email elected officials of our concern and need to protect our property and water;

    • attend public meetings and forums urging elected officials to oppose this unseemly action;
    • contact Buda, Goforth, and Anthem who have signed EP contracts to voice our concern and opposition;
    • circulate petitions to oppose EP wells and extensive drilling that exports water;
    •urge all public entities, cities, organizations and homeowners groups to pass resolutions in opposition to this action;
    • encourage and require objective, independent scientific studies of aquifer capacity, recharge and conservation;
    • distribute information to friends, neighbors and businesses on importance of this issue;
    • provide locations, data and logs on our private wells to the Hays Trinity and/or the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Districts that will allow for accuracy and a complete data base.

    In the longer term, we need more permanent solutions:
    • provide sufficient funding for groundwater districts and jurisdiction over all aquifers within their boundaries;
    • align groundwater districts along hydrogeologic, not artificial political boundaries that ignore natural aquifers and waterflow;
    • mandate effective, realistic drought and conservation plans for all groundwater districts;
    • initiate a cultural change that encourages and rewards water efficiency, reuse and conservation  and treat water as a precious, valuable resource;
    • expand the water development fund and simply the process to include groundwater studies, rain water collection systems, and conservation projects;
    • require publication and time for citizen comment and reaction to all major initiatives - in the impacted area and not miles away or on some obscure web page.

    Wallace Stevens wrote a very pertinent statement about water:  "Human nature is like water.  It takes the shape of its container."  In this drama, as the human containers and consumers of our water, we each have responsibilities to assume.   We need to be aware of where the water comes from - and it's not the faucet. So we should all agree make a concerted effort to change our own behavior along with fair and equitable rules and laws that govern this essential natural resource.

    Patrick Cox, Ph.D.
    Landowner and Hays County resident since 1974
    Wimberley, Texas
    Patrickcoxconsultants.com


     

    Posted: February 03, 2015 15:43   Go to blog
    Friday Night Football Returns to Water PoliticsJanuary 30, 2015 13:13

    By Neena SatijaJan. 30, 2015In the midst of the worst drought in recent memory, Texas lawmakers two years ago sent the state a message: The need for water can transcend politics...

  • Texas Governor Rick Perry ceremonially signed House Bill 4, which lays the foundation for Texas' future water needs. He is joined by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus, Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland and Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay on May 28, 2013
    In the midst of the worst drought in recent memory, Texas lawmakers two years ago sent the state a message: The need for water can transcend politics.
    A coalition of lawmakers from both parties and nearly every corner of the state came together to create a new fund that would help jumpstart water projects like pipelines and treatment plants. A few months later, voters overwhelmingly approved taking $2 billion from the state surplus to get the fund going.
    But such a political confluence is rare and not likely to recur soon, many lawmakers and experts say. And as the Legislature takes up more contentious water issues in 2015, including a patchwork system for managing groundwater, water politics may revert back to something more akin to Friday night football. 
    At least, that's how state Rep. Lyle Larson likes to describe water politics in Texas — thirsty towns in fierce fights over the same water supplies. The divides are often between urban, rural and suburban areas; rainy East Texas and the drier West; or population centers sharing rivers that cross nearly the entire state, like theColorado or Brazos
    "A number of groups have already pulled their swords out, and they’re drawing lines in the sand," said Larson, one of the loudest House members on water issues. "And this is typical of what we’ve seen for the past few decades.” As a San Antonio Republican and former city councilman, Larson himself is an example of locally driven water politics. The exploding city has long sought to buy groundwater from underneath nearby rural communities, but was rebuffed and onlyrecently found a source almost 150 miles away. Larson said cities aren't able to get the water they need because dozens of local districts regulate groundwater differently across Texas, and that the state should have more authority over them. 
    Doug Miller, a Republican state representative from New Braunfels — less than an hour north of San Antonio — has a different view. Also a vocal House member on water policy, Miller called the need for more state authority over groundwater "a subject for debate." 
    Miller's constituents include some rural areas that compete with San Antonio for water from the dwindling Edwards Aquifer, and others who fear thirsty cities are after their groundwater. He said it's important "not [to] destroy the economy of rural areas." 
    The political dynamic got more interesting when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick shook up the Senate committees and created an Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by freshman Republican Charles Perry of Lubbock. Previously, water had been under the Senate Natural Resources Committee, which Patrick has now put in charge of economic development. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, who chairs that committee, said he expects Perry's committee to take over most groundwater regulation issues. 
    Such a change is "huge," said Greg Ellis, a lawyer who represents local groundwater regulators across the state. "This move is potentially bad for or negative for cities, water marketers and other people that want to move water from rural Texas into the cities," he said. Perry declined to comment for this story.  
    It's not yet clear who the drivers of water policy will be in the House, since the former chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Allan Ritter of Nederland, has retired. The Republican was well respected for his relative neutrality when it came to local water battles — perhaps easier for Ritter because his district is in rainy and swampy East Texas, which isn't scrambling for new water supplies. 
    "Allan did a good job in that respect," said Larson, who — along with Miller — has been vocal in his desire to take over as chairman. Larson added that if the next chairman is "somebody from the rural areas, they might not be as responsive to where we're seeing the compression on [water needs] in the urban areas." 
    But state Rep. Drew Darby, a Republican from San Angelo, said his West Texas, mainly rural constituents need water just as much as the big cities. Urban representatives may outnumber the rural ones in the Legislature, he said, but “they don’t grow cotton at Men’s Warehouse in San Antonio. They don’t feed beef at the H-E-B in San Antonio. ... The food, the fiber, the natural resources are produced in rural Texas." They need water to do that, Darby said.  
    There may be a few things that lawmakers come to a consensus on. The Texas Water Conservation Association, one of the largest trade associations of water interests in the state, is making it a priority to speed up applications for surface water projects and encourage underground water storage technologies. Both issues are important for developing big new water supplies for large numbers of people.
    But the group — which includes cities, groundwater regulators and others — could not agree on legislation on brackish groundwater desalination, which lawmakers statewide have touted as a major solution to Texas’ water crisis. Urban interests want to make it easier to pump groundwater if it's brackish, and want the ability to appeal to the state if local regulators get in the way. But rural interests see that as a threat to local control over water. 
    Andy Sansom, executive director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, doesn't expect any of the major water policy issues — namely, groundwater regulation — to be solved without "a catastrophe or federal litigation." 
    And during this legislative session in particular, many will be tired of dealing with water, Sansom predicted. "There are people who'll say, 'Well, shit, we threw $2 billion at this. What do you want?'" 
    Posted: January 30, 2015 13:13   Go to blog
    Battle Brewing In Hays County Over Commercial Water WellsJanuary 29, 2015 10:06
    Updated: Tuesday, January 27 2015, 09:32 PM CST 
    Residents in western Hays County communities like the Rolling Oaks Subdivision are fighting to save a precious resource. 
    "This is where it all comes from," Rolling Oaks resident Terry Raines said as he pointed to a water well on his property. 
    Raines' way of life there depends on his access to water. 
    "This well is 360 feet deep," he explained. "It was drilled in 1970 and has always been a good source of water." 
    But that could change...
    Updated: Tuesday, January 27 2015, 09:32 PM CST 

    Residents in western Hays County communities like the Rolling Oaks Subdivision are fighting to save a precious resource. 

    "This is where it all comes from," Rolling Oaks resident Terry Raines said as he pointed to a water well on his property. 

    Raines' way of life there depends on his access to water. 

    "This well is 360 feet deep," he explained. "It was drilled in 1970 and has always been a good source of water." 

    But that could change. 

    A Houston based company Electro Purification plans to pump five millions gallons of groundwater a day from the Trinity Aquifer and sell it to growing communities like Buda and Kyle. 

    The pumping could cause residential wells in western Hays County to run dry. 

    "I'm not the least bit opposed to growth in our county. 

    With that being said I do think county growth needs to be responsible," resident Susan Tosher said. 

    Tuesday, county homeowners took their concerns to the Hays County Commissioners Court meeting. 

    "Apparently Electro Purification does not care about the people in this area who may be damaged by their pumping," resident Jim McMeans said. 

    The Commissioners Court decided to call a special meeting inviting stake holders on this issue. 

    They are hoping to develop a plan of action. 

    "I have concerns about that amount of water leaving a very sensitive aquifer," Will Conley, Hays County Commissioner, Precinct 3, said. 

    Commissioner Conley represents western Hays County residents. 

    He hopes to take their concerns to state lawmakers to regulate commercial use of local groundwater resources. 

    If nothing is done this legislative session, residents fear what could happen. 

    "There's always been water in there ever since we've been out here and there always will if Electro doesn't pump us dry," Raines said. 

    Texas Representative Jason Isaac will host a town hall meeting regarding the water issue on February 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Wimberley Community Center. 



    text size Battle Brewing In Hays County Over Commercial Water Wells Updated: Tuesday, January 27 2015, 09:32 PM CST Residents in western Hays County communities like the Rolling Oaks Subdivision are fighting to save a precious resource. "This is where it all comes from," Rolling Oaks resident Terry Raines said as he pointed to a water well on his property. Raines' way of life there depends on his access to water. "This well is 360 feet deep," he explained. "It was drilled in 1970 and has always been a good source of water." But that could change. A Houston based company Electro Purification plans to pump five millions gallons of groundwater a day from the Trinity Aquifer and sell it to growing communities like Buda and Kyle. The pumping could cause residential wells in western Hays County to run dry. "I'm not the least bit opposed to growth in our county. With that being said I do think county growth needs to be responsible," resident Susan Tosher said. Tuesday, county homeowners took their concerns to the Hays County Commissioners Court meeting. "Apparently Electro Purification does not care about the people in this area who may be damaged by their pumping," resident Jim McMeans said. The Commissioners Court decided to call a special meeting inviting stake holders on this issue. They are hoping to develop a plan of action. "I have concerns about that amount of water leaving a very sensitive aquifer," Will Conley, Hays County Commissioner, Precinct 3, said. Commissioner Conley represents western Hays County residents. He hopes to take their concerns to state lawmakers to regulate commercial use of local groundwater resources. If nothing is done this legislative session, residents fear what could happen. "There's always been water in there ever since we've been out here and there always will if Electro doesn't pump us dry," Raines said. Texas Representative Jason Isaac will host a town hall meeting regarding the water issue on February 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Wimberley Community Center. By Nadia Galindo

    Read More at: http://www.keyetv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/battle-brewing-hays-county-over-commercial-water-wells-23769.shtml
    Posted: January 29, 2015 10:06   Go to blog
    Neighbor to Neighbor News - Hill Country Groundwater WarJanuary 28, 2015 11:01
    January 27, 2015
    A Groundwater War is EscalatingEvery rancher, landowner, well-user…any Texan for that matter, needs to understand some basic flaws in Texas water policy as illustrated in this story unfolding in Hays County.

    Starting with a fresh blog post by Vanessa Puig-Williams, we’ve assembled some articles, resources and upcoming meeting information to help generate awareness and encourage public participation.

    According to a KVUE news post last night, State Representative Jason Isaac will be hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss this gap in Trinity Groundwater Management at 6:30 p.m. on Feb...
    January 27, 2015
    A Groundwater War is Escalating
    Every rancher, landowner, well-user…any Texan for that matter, needs to understand some basic flaws in Texas water policy as illustrated in this story unfolding in Hays County.

    Starting with a fresh blog post by Vanessa Puig-Williams, we’ve assembled some articles, resources and upcoming meeting information to help generate awareness and encourage public participation.

    According to a KVUE news post last night, State Representative Jason Isaac will be hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss this gap in Trinity Groundwater Management at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the Wimberley Community Center. Read more from KVUE.





    “Rule of Capture Undermines Groundwater Regulation in Texas”


    “In mid-western Hays County, a groundwater war is escalating.  A private water supplier, with goals to pipe and sell close to 6,000 acre feet of water per year has strategically located a well field in an area of the Hill Country where the Trinity Aquifer is unregulated. Unlike the more recent groundwater controversies involving decisions by groundwater districts east of Austin to permit or limit the amount of groundwater being transported to the west, the situation in Hays County is different, as it has exposed an innate flaw of the rule of capture, one that is magnified in our modern era of groundwater regulation - the doctrine’s inability to protect a natural resource and the landowners who reasonably depend on it.

    The contentious well field is situated outside the jurisdiction of the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District but within the boundaries of the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA). (See recent Austin American Statesman article here). The geology of the area has allowed the company to drill test wells through a thin portion of the Edwards Aquifer formation and pump water from the Trinity, where EAA authority does not extend and where no groundwater regulations apply. Locals and nearby groundwater conservation districts are referring to the Trinity beneath the Edwards Aquifer as an unprotected “white zone,” and many are concerned that the water is ripe for the taking by water suppliers looking to sell water to support growing central Texas.

    Without a groundwater conservation district to issue permits and enforce pumping restrictions, under the rule of capture, this water supplier can pump an unlimited amount of groundwater from the Trinity without liability, even if doing so causes the wells of neighboring landowners to run dry. And according to hydrogeologists, this is a real possibility. The fact that a corporate water supplier is using the rule of capture to its financial advantage has infuriated many locals, but courts have long approved of this practice.”  Read the rest of the story.

    Vanessa Puig-Williams, January 26, 2015 blog post from the Energy Center at the University of Texas School of Law.




    Over 300 people and numerous elected officials attended a standing room only groundwater conservation district meeting January 21st at the Wimberley Community Center. Community awareness is building.
    A new website has been launched as to keep you informed on meetings and events related to Electro Purification and their water grab in Hays County and how you can get involved:
    The Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA) has this issue on their agenda, Wednesday, January 28th at 3:00 pm at the San Marcos Activity Center.

    The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) will discuss and possibly take action related the EP well field including options for possible annexation, Thursday, January 29th at 6:00pm. 1124 Regal Row in South Austin

    Find a complete listing of recent and upcoming public meetings worth attending here.
    The Hays County Commissioner’s Court will be forming committee to hold public forums to discuss concerns over groundwater pumping, particularly in areas where conservation districts have no authority, “in the interest of protecting private land rights while promoting public responsibility.” Read more from Hays County.
    The Citizen’s Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) issued an excellent community alert last week that includes additional background information as well as contact information for area elected officials: http://hayscard.org/cardtalk15-citizenalert1.html.  Letting your voice be heard by those who represent you matters.
    Hays County Commissioner, Will Conley stated in a recent letter to the community: “I, along with many of my colleagues, have discussed this issue with the groundwater districts in Hays County. We have asked that they get together and see if they can develop some reasonable legislation that might cover this gap in groundwater regulatory authority in our community. To my knowledge the groundwater districts are working together and will try to deliver something to Representative Isaac in the near future. This is a complicated issue that will warrant a tremendous amount of discussion. However I am optimistic that our groundwater districts, working with Representative Isaac can come up with a good solution. The rule of capture should not be the only rule that applies to a corporate entity with the intentions of commercial distribution of water resources. I believe there must be some accountability on this whole process beyond free market principles that will protect the private property rights of land owners in an impacted area.” Read the full media release issued by Commissioner Conley’s office here.



    To put some of this into perspective, the production being proposed is 5.3 million gallons per day (mgd). Whereas the entire Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer District’s maximum allowable pump limit is 1.5mgd and the entire Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District’s maximum is 8.13mgd.
    5.3 million gallons per day exceeds that being withdrawn from the aquifer for the entire county area. This massive rate could cause water levels to be lowered in hundreds of nearby wells, thus creating the need for pumps in the wells to be lowered or the need for many wells to be drilled deeper.

    In 1985 Texas began a process to determine where critical groundwater shortages were anticipated and to designate Priority Groundwater Management Areas (PGMAs) as areas where Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCDs) were necessary. In 1990 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) designated the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area. It includes all or part of nine Hill Country counties and these wells are just barely beyond the eastern boundary of the PGMA in Hays County. Groundwater Districts have never been formed in Western Comal County or Western Travis County.



    Electro Purification’s test wells are 900-950 feet deep into the Middle Trinity Aquifer’s Cow Creek and lower Glenn Rose formations on Bridges Ranch. Electro Purification has characterized their well field as isolated from surrounding wells; however, the BSEACD has hundreds of well records in the same formation less than 5 miles away.

    The well field lies near the intersection of FM 150 and FM 3237 just west of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSAECD) and just east of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) near Mountain City and Wimberley. As stated above, although this area is under the jurisdiction of the The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA), they have no regulatory authority over the Trinity Aquifer beneath the Edwards.

    Image courtesy of BSEACD

    Pumping production from a total of 15-20 planed wells is expected to peak at 5.3-mgd in 18-24 months. At 1/5th of the proposed production levels, the estimated drawdown of that heavily utilized portion of the Trinity Aquifer is 93’/year.
    Area landowners are justifiably concerned and pointing to hydro-geologic evidence that wells will dry-up if pumping proceeds.
    Electro Purification plans on pumping to fulfill contracts to the following entities located to on the eastern edge of the Hill Country along the I-35 corridor.
    - 1mgd (contract signed) to the Anthem subdivision planned by Clark Wilson Homes  located outside of Mountain City
     
    - 1.3mgd (council approved the completion of a contract with mitigation stipulations to be written in) to the City of Buda
     
    - 3mgd (contract signed in 2013) to the Goforth Water Special Utility District.



    “It's by far the biggest commercial pumping project in the area, but it won't be subject to any regulation because the well fields are in a regulatory "no-man's land," as some lawyers like to call it.” Neena Sataja, Texas Tribune. From her recent article “Groundwater Wars Brewing in Austin’s Suburbs” this quotes says a lot:
    "That just really seems like it goes beyond the good will intention of the law," said state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, who represents Hays County. "To find this area that’s just right outside of a district, that really concerns me."

    Thank goodness this is concerning our elected officials and that they are thinking about the things like the “good will intention of the law.”



    Read more and share with your neighbors:
    Electro Purification in the Press:

    Groundwater Wars Brewing In Austin's Suburbs
    Texas Tribune, Jan. 23, 2015 by Neena Satija


    Buda Makes Waves With Water Contract
    Hays Free Press, Wed, 01/21/2015 - 12:37pm , By Andy Sevilla


    Buda Agreement With Electro Purification
    City of Buda news dispatch, Jan 21, 2015


    Firm’s Plan To Pump, Sell Water Raises Alarm In Northern Hays County
    Austin American Statesman, 9:44 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015 By Sean Collins Walsh


    Where Will The Water Come From?
    Dripping Springs News-Dispach Fri, 01/16/2015 - 10:00am by Ashley Sava


    MUD For Water: Aquifer Pumping Increases With Growth, Development
    Hays Free Press, Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:36pm, By Andy Sevilla


    Water Fight Ends in Rancher’s Favor
    Houston Chronicle, By Matthew Tresaugue, January 23, 2014
    Posted: January 28, 2015 11:01   Go to blog
    Saving Family Lands Seminars March 2015January 28, 2015 10:13
    Saving Family Lands 2015San Antonio March 25, Pearl Studio, Suite 115Fort Worth, TX March 26, Ft. Worth Convention Center, Room 201
    Designed for landowners and their advisors, Saving Family Lands will focus on how to individually tailor the voluntary conservation easement to meet a family’s goals, and thus pass cherished lands down to future generations. Led by national conservation easement expert, attorney and author of the IRS conservation easement code, Stephen J. Small, the half-day seminar will include presentations on the tax benefits of donated conservation easements, appraisals, oil and gas development and land trusts...

    Saving Family Lands 2015

    San Antonio March 25, Pearl Studio, Suite 115

    Fort Worth, TX March 26, Ft. Worth Convention Center, Room 201


    Designed for landowners and their advisors, Saving Family Lands will focus on how to individually tailor the voluntary conservation easement to meet a family’s goals, and thus pass cherished lands down to future generations. Led by national conservation easement expert, attorney and author of the IRS conservation easement code, Stephen J. Small, the half-day seminar will include presentations on the tax benefits of donated conservation easements, appraisals, oil and gas development and land trusts.


    Agenda

    12:30 – 1:00Registration
    1:00-1:15Introductions,
    Blair Fitzsimons Chief Executive Officer, Texas Agricultural Land Trust
    1:15-2:00Tax benefits of Conservation easements
    Stephen J. Small, Law Office of Stephen J. Small Esq., P.C.
    2:00-2:15 Break
    2:15-3:00Pitfalls / Common mistakes
    Steve Small
    3:00-3:45Appraisal rules
    James J. Jeffries, MAI, ARA, Jeffries Appraisal Services
    3:45-4:00 Break
    4:00-5:15Oil and gas production on conserved land
    Steve Small & Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, Partner, Uhl, Fitzsimons Jewett & Burton PLLC
    5:15-5:45Q&A for the Panel
    5:45 Adjourn

    Fee: $75 before February 28, 2015, $100 after.
    To Register: Please click the location of the Saving Family Lands event you wish to attend:
    San Antonio March 25, 2015
    RegisterTodayButton
    Fort Worth March 26, 2015
    RegisterTodayButton

     

    Posted: January 28, 2015 10:13   Go to blog
    Rule of Capture Undermines Groundwater Regulation in TexasJanuary 28, 2015 10:10
    By: Vanessa Puig-Williams  January 26, 2015   In mid-western Hays County, a groundwater war is escalating. A private water supplier, with goals to pipe and sell close to 6,000 acre feet of water per year has strategically located a well field in an area of the Hill Country where the Trinity Aquifer is unregulated...
    In mid-western Hays County, a groundwater war is escalating. A private water supplier, with goals to pipe and sell close to 6,000 acre feet of water per year has strategically located a well field in an area of the Hill Country where the Trinity Aquifer is unregulated. Unlike the more recent groundwater controversies involving decisions by groundwater districts east of Austin to permit or limit the amount of groundwater being transported to the west, the situation in Hays County is different, as it has exposed an innate flaw of the rule of capture, one that is magnified in our modern era of groundwater regulation – the doctrine’s inability to protect a natural resource and the landowners who reasonably depend on it.

    The contentious well field is situated outside the jurisdiction of the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District but within the boundaries of the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA). (See recent Austin American Statesman article here). The geology of the area has allowed the company to drill test wells through a thin portion of the Edwards Aquifer formation and pump water from the Trinity, where EAA authority does not extend and where no groundwater regulations apply. Locals and nearby groundwater conservation districts are referring to the Trinity beneath the Edwards Aquifer as an unprotected “white zone,” and many are concerned that the water is ripe for the taking by water suppliers looking to sell water to support growing central Texas.

    Without a groundwater conservation district to issue permits and enforce pumping restrictions, under the rule of capture, this water supplier can pump an unlimited amount of groundwater from the Trinity without liability, even if doing so causes the wells of neighboring landowners to run dry. And according to hydrogeologists, this is a real possibility. The fact that a corporate water supplier is using the rule of capture to its financial advantage has infuriated many locals, but courts have long approved of this practice.

    In the 1904 landmark case of Houston Texas Central Railroad Company v. W.A. East, the Texas Supreme Court adopted the rule of capture in Texas.[i] In East, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad Company dug a groundwater well on property it owned in Denison, Texas to supply water for its locomotives and machines shops. The well produced about 25,000 gallons per day, ultimately causing the plaintiff’s domestic well, which was dug prior to the railroad company’s well, to run dry.
    A major point of discussion for the Court was the fact that the railroad was using the groundwater for manufacturing purposes rather than for domestic purposes. The opinion discusses and relies on several cases where other courts maintained that a defendant landowner can pump groundwater to sell to a town or to use in manufacturing, mining, or brewing “whatever may be its effect upon his neighbor’s wells and springs.”[ii] One of these opinions from 1859 in England, Chasemore v. Richards, concerned a defendant landowner who used percolating water from his property to supply to a town, consequently reducing water in a neighbor’s stream to the point where he could no longer operate his mill. In East, the Texas Supreme Court noted that Lord Wensleydale, one of the Justices in Chasemore “expressed doubt as to the correctness of the conclusion reached” even though he “admitted to the soundness of the rule of capture.”[iii] According to the Texas Supreme Court, “[h]is doubt arose out of the fact that the defendant was not using water for his own purposes but was selling it to others.”[iv]

    In 1999, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the rule of capture in Sipriano v. Great Spring Waters of America (Ozarka)[v]when asked to decide whether the bottled water company could be held liable for pumping 90,000 gallons of groundwater a day from its property, resulting in neighboring landowners’ wells going dry.

    While the Texas Supreme Court recognized that the rule of capture is “harsh” and “outmoded” and has been “severely criticized,” it was unwilling to change the law, instead, punting the decision of whether to abandon the rule of capture to the Texas Legislature.[vi] The Court’s decision in Sipriano rested primarily on the 1917 Amendment to the Texas Constitution, which placed the duty to protect the State’s natural resources in the hands of the Legislature and on the Legislature’s efforts at that time to regulate groundwater in Senate Bill 1.[vii]

    Since the Sipriano decision in 1999, the Legislature has made considerable progress in regulating groundwater across Texas. The Legislature has approved the establishment of close to 100 groundwater conservation districts.[viii] Moreover, under Chapter 36 of the Water Code, the Legislature has created a process where groundwater districts with jurisdiction over the same aquifers work together in a groundwater management area (GMA) to establish desired future conditions for these aquifers. Desired future conditions or DFC’s are “the desired, quantified conditions of groundwater resources (such as water levels, water quality, spring flows, or saturated thickness) at a specified time or times in the future…”[ix] Under Chapter 36, a GMA submits the DFC for an aquifer to the Texas Water Development Board who uses it to determine the modeled available groundwater (MAG) for the aquifer. Groundwater conservation districts use the MAG in their permitting decisions, as Chapter 36 requires groundwater districts to manage groundwater in a way that achieves the adopted DFC.[x]

    Under the nose of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, however, on an unregulated well field in Hays County, the rule of capture is undermining this regulatory framework. For the portion of the Trinity Aquifer governed by GMA 9 and the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, the annual amount of water the water supplier intends to pump (5,600 acre feet) is over half of the MAG (9,100 acre feet per year) that the Texas Water Development Board determined is available to permit for the district to achieve its DFC. Even more alarming, for the portion of the Trinity Aquifer that falls under the jurisdiction of GMA 10 and the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD), the Texas Water Development Board determined that the MAG is 1,288 acre feet a year. The water supplier has plans to pump 4,300 acre feet more than the MAG. BSEACD is concerned that this excessive withdrawal of groundwater will interfere with the groundwater district’s ability to achieve the DFC for the Trinity Aquifer.

    As Justice Hecht wrote in his concurring opinion in Sipriano, “what really hampers groundwater management is the established alternative, the common law rule of capture…It is hard to see how maintaining the rule of capture can be justified as deference to the Legislature’s constitutional province when the rule is contrary to the local regulation that is the legislature’s preferred method of groundwater management.”[xi]

    The Legislature constructed Texas’ groundwater regulations to ensure that groundwater, a natural resource, is conserved, preserved, and protected.[xii] But the rule of capture is contrary to these purposes, especially when it protects the interests of corporate entities wishing to export groundwater rather than the property rights of local landowners.

    In this era of drought and widespread regulation of groundwater in Texas, the doubt expressed long ago by Lord Wensleydale over the rule of capture’s protection of water marketers is even more relevant today. In response to the situation in Hays County, a Hays County Commissioner recently wrote that “[t]he rule of capture should not be the only rule that applies to a corporate entity with the intentions of commercial distribution of water resources.”

    In the short term, locals are considering annexing the unregulated parts of the Trinity Aquifer into the jurisdiction of the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and lobbying the Legislature for additional funding for the district to be able to effectively regulate. But in the long term, perhaps the Legislature should examine whether it is time to dispense with the rule of capture in favor of a liability doctrine that protects the natural resource, the property rights of all landowners, and supports the regulatory framework the Legislature enacted rather than undermining it.

    Go to Original Post

    Footnotes
    [i]Houston Texas Central Railroad Company v. W.A. East, 98 Tex. 146, 81 S.W. 279 (1904).
    [ii] East, 98 Tex 146 at 150.
    [iii] Id.
    [iv] Id.
    [v] Sipriano v. Great Spring Waters of Am., Inc., 1 S.W.3d 75 (Tex. 1999)
    [vi] Sipriano, 1. S.W.3d 75 at 78 (discussing Friendswood Development Co. v. Smith–Southwest Industries, Inc. 576 S.W.2d 21 (1978)).
    [vii] Id. at 79.
    [viii]See http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/mapping/doc/maps/GCDs_8x11.pdf
    [ix] See Tex. Water Code §36.108.
    [x] Tex. Water Code §36.1071(a).
    [xi]Sipriano 1.S.W.3d 75 at 81, 83. (Hecht, J., concurring).
    [xii] Tex. Water Code §36.0015
    Posted: January 28, 2015 10:10   Go to blog
    THE TEXAS TRIBUNE: roundwater Wars Brewing in Austin's Suburbs: by Neena Satija Jan. 23, 2015 January 26, 2015 17:08


    WIMBERLEY — In a classic example of the gaps in Texas' patchwork approach to regulating groundwater, an unprecedented amount of water may soon be pumped from underneath already parched Hays County with virtually no oversight.
    Houston-based Electro Purification hopes to eventually pump 5 million gallons of water daily from the Trinity Aquifer, and sell it to some of Austin's fastest-growing Hill Country suburbs, including the town of Buda and a new subdivision planned near Kyle...


    WIMBERLEY — In a classic example of the gaps in Texas' patchwork approach to regulating groundwater, an unprecedented amount of water may soon be pumped from underneath already parched Hays County with virtually no oversight.

    Houston-based Electro Purification hopes to eventually pump 5 million gallons of water daily from the Trinity Aquifer, and sell it to some of Austin's fastest-growing Hill Country suburbs, including the town of Buda and a new subdivision planned near Kyle.

    It's by far the biggest commercial pumping project in the area, but it won't be subject to any regulation because the well fields are in a regulatory "no-man's land," as some lawyers like to call it.


    Electro Purification's wells (the yellow dots on the map)
     are outside any regulator's purview. They're also near many other 
    wells that depend on the Trinity Aquifer (the blue and green dots).  

    Graphic by: Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. 
    About 100 groundwater conservation districts across Texas limit how much water users can pump from aquifers in an effort to protect the resource. 

    But Electro Purification's well fields are in an area where no district governs the Trinity Aquifer. The wells are located in the Edwards Aquifer Authority's jurisdiction — but the authority doesn't oversee the Trinity, which is a groundwater formation that lies under the Edwards in Hays County.

    Since it's not operating within a groundwater conservation district, Electro Purification is subject only to the century-plus-old "rule of capture" — which basically allows it to pump as much water as it wants with no liability on how that affects neighbors. The company only needed to lease the land for its well fields, secure water rights from the landowners, and get a permit to drill through the Edwards Aquifer to the underlying Trinity. It is is not required to report its pumping activities to any authority.

    "That just really seems like it goes beyond the good will intention of the law," said state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, who represents Hays County. "To find this area that’s just right outside of a district, that really concerns me."

    Electro Purification did not respond to requests for comment, but the company has disputed that its pumping will affect anyone, and Buda has promised that a mitigation plan will be in place for anyone impacted. But local residents and hydrologists are deeply worried. Shallow residential wells — which provide water for most people in this exploding suburban county outside Austin — have already gone dry during the ongoing drought, and they fear a huge amount of pumping in a focused area will only make things worse.

    "My district and others, and you all, I gather, are concerned," Brian Hunt said at a packed meeting of over 200 people at the Wimberley Community Center on Wednesday night, just a few miles from the well fields. "This is a real conundrum for us."
    Hunt is a hydrologist for the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, which manages the Trinity and Edwards aquifers in some parts of Hays and Travis County. And he was speaking at a meeting of the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, which governs the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County. Electro Purification's well fields are located just outside both districts' boundaries.

    Hunt said such a huge amount of groundwater withdrawal in one area could cause the water table in hundreds of nearby residential wells to drop more than 50 feet in just one year. That would force people to spend tens of thousands of dollars lowering their pumps. Some nearby residents have designed bumper stickers that read, "Buda sucks us dry."
    "I don't have money to dig a deeper well," pleaded Janice Rogers, one of several Hays County residents who spoke at the meeting. "All I have is the little house I live in." She added that she doesn't have the money to install a rainwater collection system, either, which many of her neighbors have done to bypass issues with groundwater availability.

    Hydrologists across Central Texas are still collecting data on what effects Electro Purification's pumping might have. But Hunt and Raymond Slade, an Austin-based hydrologist who is retired from the U.S. Geological Survey, said the Trinity Aquifer can sustain far less pumping than other aquifers, like the Edwards.

    "The holes are much smaller" in the rocks where Trinity water moves through, Slade said. "They don’t have caves." If someone pumps a lot of water from the Trinity, "a lot of [new] water can't move in quickly to fill in gaps." That affects nearby pumpers, who have to look farther underground for water.

    The project has businesses and schools worried, too. Many attending the meeting said they'd heard about it because St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Wimberley, which relies on water from the Trinity, had sent a note to students.

    But there's little anyone can do to stop Electro Purification.

    The Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District could try to annex the unregulated portion of the Trinity, but that's not an easy process and may require the Legislature to act. And even if that is successful, the district is basically broke. It has no taxing authority or even the ability to charge groundwater production fees. Only the Legislature can change that.
    Isaac, the local state representative, said he's not yet sure what is doable. “At this point, I’m trying to study the issues and learn more about it before we decide to change the Texas Constitution and take the rule of capture away from everybody," he said in a phone interview Wednesday. He added that legislators are unlikely to agree to give the Hays-Trinity district taxing authority in this political environment.

    But a local lawmaker could easily give his own constituents' groundwater conservation district the authority to charge more fees, and no one would challenge him, said Greg Ellis, the district's general counsel.

    “It’s almost unheard of in the Senate for an outside senator to interfere with a local bill," Ellis said.

    “It’s almost the same in the House.”

    Isaac said his real priority is addressing the patchwork system of groundwater regulation in Texas, where districts are drawn on county lines — not aquifer lines. That especially affects the huge Trinity Aquifer, which stretches across such a huge portion of the state. Unregulated pumping in the Trinity is also happening in Comal and western Travis County, he noted.

    "We can't monitor that activity. We don't know what's going on, and it's the exact same aquifer," Isaac said. “Clearly, there are some gaps in maintaining and managing the aquifer that we need to address this session."
    Go to Texas Tribune.
    Posted: January 26, 2015 17:08   Go to blog
    Hays County Press Release: Court Forms Groundwater CommitteeJanuary 26, 2015 10:06




    Hays County, Texaswww.co.hays.tx.usFollow us at www.twitter.com/hayscountygov                              www.facebook.com/hayscountytexaswww.haysinformed.comfor Countywide Emergency InfoInformation for the News MediaJan...




    Hays County, Texas
                                  www.facebook.com/hayscountytexas
    www.haysinformed.comfor Countywide Emergency Info
    Information for the News Media
    Jan. 23, 2015




    Hays County Commissioners Court Forms Committee to Further Groundwater Pumping Discussions with Public

    Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – The Hays County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Tuesday to form a committee that would hold public forums to discuss concerns over groundwater pumping, particularly in areas where conservation districts have no authority, in the interest of protecting private land rights while promoting public responsibility.
    The vote came following public comment and discussion from Court members, concerned citizens and representatives and partners of Electro Purification, Inc., about proposed pumping in Western Hays County over the Trinity Aquifer. Electro Purification has current and expected contracts to provide as much as 1.8 billion gallons of water annually within 10 to 20 years to cities, water supply companies and proposed subdivisions primarily along the I-35 corridor in Hays County. Landowners in the same area have concerns that removing that much water from the aquifer would render their wells useless, as the water level could drop far below current levels.
    Company representatives assured the Court that while the final amount of water that would be pumped is not close to being set, they intend to introduce mitigation measures to ensure that that private citizens would not have their wells depleted due to pumping, a major concern among citizens who spoke to the Court.
    Acknowledging that the County is very limited in what it can legally require in areas not governed by groundwater districts (which are also limited in authority), Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant of Dripping Springs said that it would be difficult to say there would be no effect on private wells if that much water is removed and that it could be years before any effect is actually noticed, too late for mitigation. Whisenant formerly owned a well-drilling company in Dripping Springs.
    In 1904 the Texas Supreme Court adopted the “rule of capture” that allows landowners to pump and capture whatever water is available, regardless of the effects on neighboring wells. The land in question is privately owned and lies outside the boundaries of any area groundwater conservation districts, which generally have the authority to promulgate rules for conserving, protecting, recharging and preventing waste of groundwater.
                “The County’s goal in forming this committee is to learn what actions private companies such as Electro Purification are planning, how it might affect our area now and in the future, and how we can work together with private companies to ensure that our citizens are not deprived of the water they need,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley of Wimberley said. “We plan to invite representatives from Electro Purification, Edwards Aquifer Authority, Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, Sen. Donna Campbell, Rep. Jason Isaac, City of Mountain City, Goforth Special Utility District and the City of Buda to join the committee and provide information so that we can hold public meetings to discuss private rights and public responsibility for water capture.”
    Posted: January 26, 2015 10:06   Go to blog
    Response to Electro Purification LetterJanuary 23, 2015 15:44
    January 19, 2015The Honorable Burt Cobb, County Judge
    Hays County Courthouse
    111 E. San Antonio St., Ste. 300
    San Marcos, Texas 78666

    The Honorable Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, Commissioner, Pct. 1
    Hays County Courthouse
    111 E. San Antonio St., Ste. 304
    San Marcos, Texas 78666

    The Honorable Mark Jones, Commissioner, Pct. 2
    P.O. Box 1180
    5458 FM 2770 at Crystal Meadow Drive
    Kyle, Texas 78640

    The Honorable Will Conley, Commissioner, Pct. 3
    P.O. Box 2085
    14306 RR 12, Suite 11
    Wimberley, Texas 78676

    The Honorable Ray Whisenant, Commissioner, Pct...
    January 19, 2015
    The Honorable Burt Cobb, County Judge
    Hays County Courthouse
    111 E. San Antonio St., Ste. 300
    San Marcos, Texas 78666

    The Honorable Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, Commissioner, Pct. 1
    Hays County Courthouse
    111 E. San Antonio St., Ste. 304
    San Marcos, Texas 78666

    The Honorable Mark Jones, Commissioner, Pct. 2
    P.O. Box 1180
    5458 FM 2770 at Crystal Meadow Drive
    Kyle, Texas 78640

    The Honorable Will Conley, Commissioner, Pct. 3
    P.O. Box 2085
    14306 RR 12, Suite 11
    Wimberley, Texas 78676

    The Honorable Ray Whisenant, Commissioner, Pct. 4
    195 Roger Hanks Parkway
    Dripping Springs, TX 78620

        Re: Electro Purification LLC's water development activities in Hays County

    Dear Judge Cobb and Commissioners:

        We are writing to provide you with some factual background regarding the activities of
    Electro Purification, LLC in Hays County, in response to the recent splash of disinformation
    circulating within the County. Electro Purification prides itself in its corporate citizenship, and
    believes in the benefits of informed decision making.

        We are a small company focused on providing wholesale water supplies to communities
    looking to meet immediate short falls in their water supply inventories and provide at least a ten
    to fifteen year bridge to facilitate the individual customer communities with the opportunity to
    develop longer term water supplies. Our water source supplies are designed to be capable of
    contributing to each community's water supply inventory over a longer period of time than
    simply the bridge period, particularly when coupled with the longer term supply developed
    during the bridge period. Properly managed they will be capable of being utilized in perpetuity.
      
     Electro Purification is selective in the markets it seeks to provide water to for multiple
    reasons. First, our objective is to address identifiable needs in smaller markets. In addition to
    meeting the known water supply need, we find that our projects aid the local water supplier by
    assuming the risk of the capital investment associated with the development of the project, and
    convert it into a much more palatable cost capable of being incorporated into period rate
    increases of the water customer to its end-users.

       We ourselves are risk adverse in our investment strategy. Accordingly, in addition to
    marketing to customers with a quantifiable need, we identify our water supply based upon its
    potential capability of meeting the projected demand on a sustainable basis. We do not speculate
    about the water. Instead, we rely upon professional advice from qualified geoscientists and
    hydro geologists knowledgeable of the groundwater in the area based upon a proven track record
    of drilling and study of the region.
      
     Once we have identified both the potential customer and water supply source, we initiate
    our land acquisition through long term groundwater leasing with local landowners overlying the
    identified groundwater source. Both our groundwater leases and our water supply contracts
    contain what we call our "proven capacity" clause. Specifically, the lease provides an exit
    mechanism if the results of well testing performed on the property demonstrates that the property
    is not capable of producing a sustainable volume of water necessary to participate in the project.
    Similarly, our water supply contracts all include a "feasibility period." This contract term allows
    us to work with our hydrogeologists to develop adequate water supply sources to meet the
    contractual commitments to our customers. In particular, it allows us to acquire more additional,
    and/or different, properties for inclusion in the project as necessary to both produce the volume
    of water necessary to meet our contractual commitments as well as provide buffer zones for our
    wells to minimize potential impacts to and from neighboring landowners.

       Another feature of our business model is the fact that our wells are deeper that those
    customarily drilled in Hays County for domestic and livestock purposes, as well as use for
    irrigation of crops. Based upon our research, many of the domestic wells, as well as small
    agricultural wells, drilled in Hays County are completed in the Upper Trinity Aquifer at depths
    ranging from 0 feet to approximately 600 feet below surface elevation. For this reason, we
    complete our wells in the Middle Trinity Aquifer. In fact, most all of our production occurs from
    the base of the Middle Trinity Aquifer, also known as the Cow Creek Formation, at depths
    ranging from 800 feet to 900 feet below surface elevation.
     
      Not discussed in the recent wave of fear-mongering propaganda is the fact that there is a
    hydraulic disconnect between the Upper and Middle Trinity Aquifers. We often allow our
    landowner-lessors to continue to produce groundwater from the Upper Trinity Aquifer on our
    leases for their beneficial use, because of our confidence in the local hydrogeology and the fact
    that the Upper and Middle Trinity Aquifers have little to no interaction.

        Electro Purification is mindful of the role of groundwater districts in the management of
    the State's groundwater resources. To this end, we have an excellent track record of dutiful
    compliance with all applicable groundwater regulation. Additionally, even in locations of
    potential groundwater projects where groundwater regulation is not in place, we remain mindful
    of the principles of groundwater management traditionally implemented by local groundwater
    district to protect and conserve groundwater and prevent waste while facilitating the maximum
    beneficial use of the resource. According, we site our wells with prior knowledge of the location
    of property lines on our groundwater leases, as well as the proximity to any neighboring wells,
    particularly if they appear to have been completed in a formation where we plan to complete our
    wells and produce groundwater. We do not operate like irresponsible teenagers whose parents
    left them at the house, along with the car keys, for the weekend unsupervised.
     
      To this end, we also want to dispel the rumor that Electro Purification we will be turning
    on our pumps and immediately producing almost 6 million gallons a day ("MGD") from the
    area. In addition to the other safeguards in our business model which require we prove-up water
    available before implementing any contract and commencing operations, all of our contracts
    contemplate a growth curve over time. With respect to our contracts for production on the
    Middle Trinity Aquifer in Hays County, we are looking at "ramping up" our production over a
    ten year period. This planned growth will allow us and our customers to both observe the
    Aquifer's responses to our production, and other pumping in the area, but to respond to any
    potentially adverse impacts. Again, Electro Purification prides itself in our Stewardship of the
    resource as well as our commitment to be here for the long-term.

        We are also aware that there is some concern about possible impacts from our proposed
    well field on existing wells in the Middle Trinity Aquifer. For this reason we have evaluated the
    benefits of developing a mitigation program to address impacts, if any, of our project. We are
    working with our hydrogeologists to identify and evaluate the potential area that could be
    influenced by production from our project to develop potential mitigation programs, both
    prophylactically and in the event there are any documentable impacts from the project. We plan
    to discuss these program plans with other hydrogeologists knowledgeable of the Middle Trinity
    Aquifer in the region including local groundwater districts in the area.

        Electro Purification is also mindful of the property rights concept associated with
    groundwater leasing and production. This includes the lawful right of local landowners to lease
    their property for a profit in the form of payment of bonuses and royalties associated with our
    exploration for and production of groundwater, as well as the right to exercise the rule of capture.
    We do not, however, abuse these rights. We do not lease small "postage stamp" size tracts with
    the intent to over pump them producing l 0 to 20 or more times the number of acre-feet of water
    per acre of land acquired. Instead, we look for larger tracts of land that will support both a fair
    acre-foot to acre ratio and provide a buffer to ameliorate potential impacts to neighboring
    landowners. We also try to make our projects community assets by engaging and leasing, or
    attempting to lease, land from multiple landowners who will benefit from participation in the
    project. The additional acreage also provides us with a buffer against competing production.

        Finally, it is imperative to recognize that Electro Purification selects its potential well
    field locations based upon proximity io its potential customer market and groundwater
    availability - not the existence or non-existence of a groundwater district. Much "hoopla" has
    been made about our proposed well field along Hwy 150 approximately 5.5 miles outside of
    Wimberley in western Hays County because it is in a so-called "unregulated area." The term has
    morphed from a simple description of the fact that there is no groundwater district overlying the
    area, to a label that we are like thieves in the night who snuck onto the scene and set up shop to
    steal groundwater belonging to someone, rather than produce groundwater owned by the
    landowners from whom we lawfully have negotiated and secured groundwater leases.

       Nothing could be further from the truth. As noted above, Electro Purification includes in
    its groundwater leases an exit mechanism to be exercised in the event the groundwater beneath a
    tract of land proves to be unsatisfactory for purposes of its inclusion of in a sustainable
    groundwater supply project. While the specific language of the provision can vary slightly from
    lease to lease based upon specific negotiations with the affected landowner, the basic principal
    remains constant. Specifically, Electro Purification secures the right in each of its leases to drill
    test wells on the property. We then conduct aquifer testing, also known as "pump tests", on those
    wells to determine the characteristics of the aquifer, as well as confirm the presence of any
    geologic features such as faulting that our Hydrogeologist(s) may have identified in their review
    of available mapping or logs of neighboring wells as part of our due diligence. During these
    pump tests we also observe the impacts, if any, to neighboring wells. Based upon the results of
    these tests we evaluate the potential success of the individual well, and the well field as a whole,
    to provide a sustainable supply capable of satisfying Electro Purification's contractual
    obligations without harming the Aquifer. If the results are not satisfactory, our options are (i) to
    secure new or additional leases and repeat the process of drilling the test well and performing the
    aquifer testing, and/or (ii) elect to notify our potential customer that the project is not feasible
    and terminate the contract.

       Yes, the area along Hwy 150 where we have taken leases currently is not within the
    boundaries of a groundwater district. In that sense, the area is presently "unregulated" by a
    groundwater district. Given the educational level of citizens of Hays County, it is astounding
    that there is no recognition of the true meaning of "unregulated," much less why this particular
    area is in fact "unregulated." The fact that the area in question is not within a groundwater
    district has been a conscious decision both historically, and more recently in response to a
    petition by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to incorporate the area, along with
    other ''unregulated areas" within Hays, Comal and Travis Counties into one or more groundwater
    districts. The latter efforts have failed, in part because the two existing districts with regulatory
    authority over groundwater have either declined to exercise the initiative or express any desire to
    acquire the area or they were unable to undertake the responsibility for one or more reasons.

        What is more important, however, is why the area is "unregulated." The reason is simple.
    Unlike those areas of the Trinity Aquifer further west, e.g., the region along Hwy 12 where the
    Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District exercises jurisdiction, there are significant
    groundwater supplies present. Moreover, in the area of Electro Purification's Project, which is
    outside of the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area (POMA) created by the
    TCEQ in 1990, the saturated portion of the aquifer is substantially thicker, and the associated out
    crop area provides for enhanced recharge. A copy of the POMA map depicting the location of
    Electro Purification's Project in relation to the two existing groundwater districts (Hays Trinity
    GCD and the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer District) is attached hereto as Appendix "A".

        Had the science established facts to the contrary, the area would have been made a part of
    the Hill Country POMA, and/or a part of the Hays Trinity GCD or some other groundwater
    district. In this instance, "unregulated" is a sign of good things.

                These good things include:

                    1) Supplying water to approximately 25,000 water users in the Goforth SUD, City of Buda                 and the proposed Mountain City high-end residential development platted by Clark Wilson                 Homes; and

                    2) Facilitating the continued growth of Hays County with an enhanced ad valorem tax base.
    Sincerely,
    Electro Purification LLC
    Isl Tim Throckmorton, Manager
    Isl Bart Fletcher, Manager

    Appendix "A"
    Map of the Hill Country PGMA depicting the general location
    of Electro Purification's Hwy 150 Project Site vis-a-vis the
    Hays Trinity GCD & Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District
    Posted: January 23, 2015 15:44   Go to blog
    Buda Council makes waves with water contract - Austin MonitorAustin MonitorJanuary 23, 2015 15:35
    Buda Council makes waves with water contractMuch to the dismay of a standing-room-only crowd at Buda City Hall, City Council members approved a water supply contract Tuesday that would allow up to 1 million gallons per day for city use from the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County.
    Electro Purification, the Houston-based water supplier that is looking to extract water from the Cow Creek Formation of the Middle Trinity Aquifer, also has agreements with the Goforth Special Utility District and the developer of a future high-end, 2,200-home development in Mountain City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction for 3 million and 1...
    Buda Council makes waves with water contract
    Much to the dismay of a standing-room-only crowd at Buda City Hall, City Council members approved a water supply contract Tuesday that would allow up to 1 million gallons per day for city use from the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County.

    Electro Purification, the Houston-based water supplier that is looking to extract water from the Cow Creek Formation of the Middle Trinity Aquifer, also has agreements with the Goforth Special Utility District and the developer of a future high-end, 2,200-home development in Mountain City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction for 3 million and 1.3 million gallons of water per day, respectively.

    Many area residents and officials in attendance at Tuesday night’s Buda Council meeting implored the elected officials to delay action on the water supply contract and allow for the dissemination and review of data surrounding the massive water-pumping project in western Hays County.

    Concerns about domestic Trinity Aquifer wells going dry due to Electro Purification’s proposed well field have run rampant throughout Hays County in recent weeks.

    Eileen Conley, Buda business owner and resident, told Council: “We do have an obligation to not take water from our neighbors who are relying on that for life.”

    Representing the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, board member Mary Stone asked Council to delay a decision on the contract, due to limited data available and a request to get one of their geoscientists to look at Electro Purification’s test wells and explore the potential impacts to neighboring wells, as well as the aquifer as a whole.

    “Currently we have no site-specific data of this area, and we are concerned of the potential impact of people that live around that well site, as well as some of the area within the Trinity [Aquifer],” Stone said.

    But despite pleas from several Hays County residents, the Barton Springs district and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, Council voted 6-1 to move forward with the execution of a water supply contract. Buda’s agreement — unlike those with Goforth and Clark Wilson, the developer of the proposed Anthem subdivision just outside Mountain City — will have a mitigation clause in place that could put Electro Purification on the hook to repair or alleviate affected surrounding wells.

    Still, Council’s vote was met with gasps, shock and nods of disapproval from those in attendance.

    “I see some head-shaking out there [in the audience],” said Buda Mayor Todd Ruge. “However, there are two agreements already in place that do not have that mitigation plan as ours does. We have actually provided extra protection for those folks out there as part of the agreement, and that seemed to be the first question that came up tonight.”

    Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District President Linda Kaye Rogers, who had also asked for a delay of the vote on the contract, said she was disappointed with Council’s decision.

    “I am in tears,” she said. “I can’t believe that they would do this — that they would defy the county commissioners’ request, all the requests of the people that came in tonight — and that they would go forward with inadequate and incomplete information. They do not have all the information they need to make this decision.”

    Council Member Angela Kennedy, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the residents who expressed worry had legitimate concerns of domestic wells potentially running dry.

    “The hydrogeologist that we hired pretty much established that this project is going to have negative impacts on the surrounding residential/domestic wells,” Kennedy told the Monitor,adding that Buda has other opportunities for water supply and that she plainly disagreed with contracting with an organization that could negatively affect its residents and potentially impact sensitive environmental features like Jacobs Well in Wimberley.

    Bob Harden, a hydrologist the city hired to review Electro Purification’s plan, told Council members that about 30 wells within 4 miles of the water supplier’s well field may see a decline of artesian pressure of approximately 200 to 300 feet or more.

    Harden said water levels may fall below where the pumps are set in nearby domestic wells. However, he added, that could easily be alleviated by lowering the pumps.

    Barton Springs District General Manager John Dupnik said that, in his estimation, it is quite likely that more wells could be affected than those described by Harden, though he did not have an exact number.

    “It’s disappointing. Our board formally requested some time to conduct a technical analysis of the data that we just received on Friday [Jan. 16],” Dupnik said. “So we haven’t had the opportunity to do that, we’re going to continue to do that, but I’m not sure what effect it will have. These contracts are binding. The consequences are still unknown to us.”

    But the unknowns go beyond the potential impacts to surrounding domestic and commercial wells.

    “We haven’t proved up this thing yet, [and] unless this thing proves up and we know we can take care of the city’s needs, the contract won’t go through,” Electro Purification principal Bart Fletcher told the Monitor.

    Buda’s contract has an option period that gives Electro Purification nine months to prove that its well field can produce 5.65 million gallons of water per day, or MGD, which accounts for Buda’s 1 MGD, plus a 25 percent contingency, and Goforth’s and Wilson’s agreed amounts. If the company cannot provide the water quantity, then the city can get out of the contract.

    Per Buda’s agreement, the city will pay $131,400 per year in reservation costs, and the company will have 18 months to construct the infrastructure necessary to pipe the water east.

    Once the water is able to be delivered, Buda will pay a total of $658,825 in the first year of the 30-year contract — $593,125 for take or pay of 0.50 MGD, and $65,700 for a reservation fee for the remaining 0.50 MGD set aside for the city.

    The first year’s delivery will amount to only one-half million gallons per day, though that amount will rise to the full 1 million MGD over five years, the agreement states.

    Ruge said the city has spent about $80,000 hiring attorneys, hydrologists and engineers to study the project.

    “We are doing our homework on this,” Ruge said. “When we enter into any kind of contract, we don’t take things like this lightly.”

    Buda was first approached by Electro Purification in November 2011 to discuss a potential future water supply agreement. The matter was revisited in 2013 and last September the council directed staff to explore a contract for 1 MGD.

    Buda Council makes waves with water contract

    Much to the dismay of a standing-room-only crowd at Buda City Hall, City Council members approved a water supply contract Tuesday that would allow up to 1 million gallons per day for city use from the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County.
    Electro Purification, the Houston-based water supplier that is looking to extract water from the Cow Creek Formation of the Middle Trinity Aquifer, also has agreements with the Goforth Special Utility District and the developer of a future high-end, 2,200-home development in Mountain City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction for 3 million and 1.3 million gallons of water per day, respectively.
    Many area residents and officials in attendance at Tuesday night’s Buda Council meeting implored the elected officials to delay action on the water supply contract and allow for the dissemination and review of data surrounding the massive water-pumping project in western Hays County.
    Concerns about domestic Trinity Aquifer wells going dry due to Electro Purification’s proposed well field have run rampant throughout Hays County in recent weeks.
    Eileen Conley, Buda business owner and resident, told Council: “We do have an obligation to not take water from our neighbors who are relying on that for life.”
    Representing the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, board member Mary Stone asked Council to delay a decision on the contract, due to limited data available and a request to get one of their geoscientists to look at Electro Purification’s test wells and explore the potential impacts to neighboring wells, as well as the aquifer as a whole.
    “Currently we have no site-specific data of this area, and we are concerned of the potential impact of people that live around that well site, as well as some of the area within the Trinity [Aquifer],” Stone said.
    But despite pleas from several Hays County residents, the Barton Springs district and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, Council voted 6-1 to move forward with the execution of a water supply contract. Buda’s agreement — unlike those with Goforth and Clark Wilson, the developer of the proposed Anthem subdivision just outside Mountain City — will have a mitigation clause in place that could put Electro Purification on the hook to repair or alleviate affected surrounding wells.
    Still, Council’s vote was met with gasps, shock and nods of disapproval from those in attendance.
    “I see some head-shaking out there [in the audience],” said Buda Mayor Todd Ruge. “However, there are two agreements already in place that do not have that mitigation plan as ours does. We have actually provided extra protection for those folks out there as part of the agreement, and that seemed to be the first question that came up tonight.”
    Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District President Linda Kaye Rogers, who had also asked for a delay of the vote on the contract, said she was disappointed with Council’s decision.
    “I am in tears,” she said. “I can’t believe that they would do this — that they would defy the county commissioners’ request, all the requests of the people that came in tonight — and that they would go forward with inadequate and incomplete information. They do not have all the information they need to make this decision.”
    Council Member Angela Kennedy, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the residents who expressed worry had legitimate concerns of domestic wells potentially running dry.
    “The hydrogeologist that we hired pretty much established that this project is going to have negative impacts on the surrounding residential/domestic wells,” Kennedy told the Monitor, adding that Buda has other opportunities for water supply and that she plainly disagreed with contracting with an organization that could negatively affect its residents and potentially impact sensitive environmental features like Jacobs Well in Wimberley.
    Bob Harden, a hydrologist the city hired to review Electro Purification’s plan, told Council members that about 30 wells within 4 miles of the water supplier’s well field may see a decline of artesian pressure of approximately 200 to 300 feet or more.
    Harden said water levels may fall below where the pumps are set in nearby domestic wells. However, he added, that could easily be alleviated by lowering the pumps.
    Barton Springs District General Manager John Dupnik said that, in his estimation, it is quite likely that more wells could be affected than those described by Harden, though he did not have an exact number.
    “It’s disappointing. Our board formally requested some time to conduct a technical analysis of the data that we just received on Friday [Jan. 16],” Dupnik said. “So we haven’t had the opportunity to do that, we’re going to continue to do that, but I’m not sure what effect it will have. These contracts are binding. The consequences are still unknown to us.”
    But the unknowns go beyond the potential impacts to surrounding domestic and commercial wells.
    “We haven’t proved up this thing yet, [and] unless this thing proves up and we know we can take care of the city’s needs, the contract won’t go through,” Electro Purification principal Bart Fletcher told the Monitor.
    Buda’s contract has an option period that gives Electro Purification nine months to prove that its well field can produce 5.65 million gallons of water per day, or MGD, which accounts for Buda’s 1 MGD, plus a 25 percent contingency, and Goforth’s and Wilson’s agreed amounts. If the company cannot provide the water quantity, then the city can get out of the contract.
    Per Buda’s agreement, the city will pay $131,400 per year in reservation costs, and the company will have 18 months to construct the infrastructure necessary to pipe the water east.
    Once the water is able to be delivered, Buda will pay a total of $658,825 in the first year of the 30-year contract — $593,125 for take or pay of 0.50 MGD, and $65,700 for a reservation fee for the remaining 0.50 MGD set aside for the city.
    The first year’s delivery will amount to only one-half million gallons per day, though that amount will rise to the full 1 million MGD over five years, the agreement states.
    Ruge said the city has spent about $80,000 hiring attorneys, hydrologists and engineers to study the project.
    “We are doing our homework on this,” Ruge said. “When we enter into any kind of contract, we don’t take things like this lightly.”
    Buda was first approached by Electro Purification in November 2011 to discuss a potential future water supply agreement. The matter was revisited in 2013 and last September the council directed staff to explore a contract for 1 MGD.
    - See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/01/buda-makes-waves-with-water-contract/#sthash.hIjtayfO.dpuf

    Buda Council makes waves with water contract

    Much to the dismay of a standing-room-only crowd at Buda City Hall, City Council members approved a water supply contract Tuesday that would allow up to 1 million gallons per day for city use from the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County.
    Electro Purification, the Houston-based water supplier that is looking to extract water from the Cow Creek Formation of the Middle Trinity Aquifer, also has agreements with the Goforth Special Utility District and the developer of a future high-end, 2,200-home development in Mountain City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction for 3 million and 1.3 million gallons of water per day, respectively.
    Many area residents and officials in attendance at Tuesday night’s Buda Council meeting implored the elected officials to delay action on the water supply contract and allow for the dissemination and review of data surrounding the massive water-pumping project in western Hays County.
    Concerns about domestic Trinity Aquifer wells going dry due to Electro Purification’s proposed well field have run rampant throughout Hays County in recent weeks.
    Eileen Conley, Buda business owner and resident, told Council: “We do have an obligation to not take water from our neighbors who are relying on that for life.”
    Representing the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, board member Mary Stone asked Council to delay a decision on the contract, due to limited data available and a request to get one of their geoscientists to look at Electro Purification’s test wells and explore the potential impacts to neighboring wells, as well as the aquifer as a whole.
    “Currently we have no site-specific data of this area, and we are concerned of the potential impact of people that live around that well site, as well as some of the area within the Trinity [Aquifer],” Stone said.
    But despite pleas from several Hays County residents, the Barton Springs district and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, Council voted 6-1 to move forward with the execution of a water supply contract. Buda’s agreement — unlike those with Goforth and Clark Wilson, the developer of the proposed Anthem subdivision just outside Mountain City — will have a mitigation clause in place that could put Electro Purification on the hook to repair or alleviate affected surrounding wells.
    Still, Council’s vote was met with gasps, shock and nods of disapproval from those in attendance.
    “I see some head-shaking out there [in the audience],” said Buda Mayor Todd Ruge. “However, there are two agreements already in place that do not have that mitigation plan as ours does. We have actually provided extra protection for those folks out there as part of the agreement, and that seemed to be the first question that came up tonight.”
    Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District President Linda Kaye Rogers, who had also asked for a delay of the vote on the contract, said she was disappointed with Council’s decision.
    “I am in tears,” she said. “I can’t believe that they would do this — that they would defy the county commissioners’ request, all the requests of the people that came in tonight — and that they would go forward with inadequate and incomplete information. They do not have all the information they need to make this decision.”
    Council Member Angela Kennedy, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the residents who expressed worry had legitimate concerns of domestic wells potentially running dry.
    “The hydrogeologist that we hired pretty much established that this project is going to have negative impacts on the surrounding residential/domestic wells,” Kennedy told the Monitor, adding that Buda has other opportunities for water supply and that she plainly disagreed with contracting with an organization that could negatively affect its residents and potentially impact sensitive environmental features like Jacobs Well in Wimberley.
    Bob Harden, a hydrologist the city hired to review Electro Purification’s plan, told Council members that about 30 wells within 4 miles of the water supplier’s well field may see a decline of artesian pressure of approximately 200 to 300 feet or more.
    Harden said water levels may fall below where the pumps are set in nearby domestic wells. However, he added, that could easily be alleviated by lowering the pumps.
    Barton Springs District General Manager John Dupnik said that, in his estimation, it is quite likely that more wells could be affected than those described by Harden, though he did not have an exact number.
    “It’s disappointing. Our board formally requested some time to conduct a technical analysis of the data that we just received on Friday [Jan. 16],” Dupnik said. “So we haven’t had the opportunity to do that, we’re going to continue to do that, but I’m not sure what effect it will have. These contracts are binding. The consequences are still unknown to us.”
    But the unknowns go beyond the potential impacts to surrounding domestic and commercial wells.
    “We haven’t proved up this thing yet, [and] unless this thing proves up and we know we can take care of the city’s needs, the contract won’t go through,” Electro Purification principal Bart Fletcher told the Monitor.
    Buda’s contract has an option period that gives Electro Purification nine months to prove that its well field can produce 5.65 million gallons of water per day, or MGD, which accounts for Buda’s 1 MGD, plus a 25 percent contingency, and Goforth’s and Wilson’s agreed amounts. If the company cannot provide the water quantity, then the city can get out of the contract.
    Per Buda’s agreement, the city will pay $131,400 per year in reservation costs, and the company will have 18 months to construct the infrastructure necessary to pipe the water east.
    Once the water is able to be delivered, Buda will pay a total of $658,825 in the first year of the 30-year contract — $593,125 for take or pay of 0.50 MGD, and $65,700 for a reservation fee for the remaining 0.50 MGD set aside for the city.
    The first year’s delivery will amount to only one-half million gallons per day, though that amount will rise to the full 1 million MGD over five years, the agreement states.
    Ruge said the city has spent about $80,000 hiring attorneys, hydrologists and engineers to study the project.
    “We are doing our homework on this,” Ruge said. “When we enter into any kind of contract, we don’t take things like this lightly.”
    Buda was first approached by Electro Purification in November 2011 to discuss a potential future water supply agreement. The matter was revisited in 2013 and last September the council directed staff to explore a contract for 1 MGD.
    - See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/01/buda-makes-waves-with-water-contract/#sthash.hIjtayfO.dpuf

    Buda Council makes waves with water contract

    Much to the dismay of a standing-room-only crowd at Buda City Hall, City Council members approved a water supply contract Tuesday that would allow up to 1 million gallons per day for city use from the Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County.
    Electro Purification, the Houston-based water supplier that is looking to extract water from the Cow Creek Formation of the Middle Trinity Aquifer, also has agreements with the Goforth Special Utility District and the developer of a future high-end, 2,200-home development in Mountain City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction for 3 million and 1.3 million gallons of water per day, respectively.
    Many area residents and officials in attendance at Tuesday night’s Buda Council meeting implored the elected officials to delay action on the water supply contract and allow for the dissemination and review of data surrounding the massive water-pumping project in western Hays County.
    Concerns about domestic Trinity Aquifer wells going dry due to Electro Purification’s proposed well field have run rampant throughout Hays County in recent weeks.
    Eileen Conley, Buda business owner and resident, told Council: “We do have an obligation to not take water from our neighbors who are relying on that for life.”
    Representing the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, board member Mary Stone asked Council to delay a decision on the contract, due to limited data available and a request to get one of their geoscientists to look at Electro Purification’s test wells and explore the potential impacts to neighboring wells, as well as the aquifer as a whole.
    “Currently we have no site-specific data of this area, and we are concerned of the potential impact of people that live around that well site, as well as some of the area within the Trinity [Aquifer],” Stone said.
    But despite pleas from several Hays County residents, the Barton Springs district and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley, Council voted 6-1 to move forward with the execution of a water supply contract. Buda’s agreement — unlike those with Goforth and Clark Wilson, the developer of the proposed Anthem subdivision just outside Mountain City — will have a mitigation clause in place that could put Electro Purification on the hook to repair or alleviate affected surrounding wells.
    Still, Council’s vote was met with gasps, shock and nods of disapproval from those in attendance.
    “I see some head-shaking out there [in the audience],” said Buda Mayor Todd Ruge. “However, there are two agreements already in place that do not have that mitigation plan as ours does. We have actually provided extra protection for those folks out there as part of the agreement, and that seemed to be the first question that came up tonight.”
    Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District President Linda Kaye Rogers, who had also asked for a delay of the vote on the contract, said she was disappointed with Council’s decision.
    “I am in tears,” she said. “I can’t believe that they would do this — that they would defy the county commissioners’ request, all the requests of the people that came in tonight — and that they would go forward with inadequate and incomplete information. They do not have all the information they need to make this decision.”
    Council Member Angela Kennedy, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the residents who expressed worry had legitimate concerns of domestic wells potentially running dry.
    “The hydrogeologist that we hired pretty much established that this project is going to have negative impacts on the surrounding residential/domestic wells,” Kennedy told the Monitor, adding that Buda has other opportunities for water supply and that she plainly disagreed with contracting with an organization that could negatively affect its residents and potentially impact sensitive environmental features like Jacobs Well in Wimberley.
    Bob Harden, a hydrologist the city hired to review Electro Purification’s plan, told Council members that about 30 wells within 4 miles of the water supplier’s well field may see a decline of artesian pressure of approximately 200 to 300 feet or more.
    Harden said water levels may fall below where the pumps are set in nearby domestic wells. However, he added, that could easily be alleviated by lowering the pumps.
    Barton Springs District General Manager John Dupnik said that, in his estimation, it is quite likely that more wells could be affected than those described by Harden, though he did not have an exact number.
    “It’s disappointing. Our board formally requested some time to conduct a technical analysis of the data that we just received on Friday [Jan. 16],” Dupnik said. “So we haven’t had the opportunity to do that, we’re going to continue to do that, but I’m not sure what effect it will have. These contracts are binding. The consequences are still unknown to us.”
    But the unknowns go beyond the potential impacts to surrounding domestic and commercial wells.
    “We haven’t proved up this thing yet, [and] unless this thing proves up and we know we can take care of the city’s needs, the contract won’t go through,” Electro Purification principal Bart Fletcher told the Monitor.
    Buda’s contract has an option period that gives Electro Purification nine months to prove that its well field can produce 5.65 million gallons of water per day, or MGD, which accounts for Buda’s 1 MGD, plus a 25 percent contingency, and Goforth’s and Wilson’s agreed amounts. If the company cannot provide the water quantity, then the city can get out of the contract.
    Per Buda’s agreement, the city will pay $131,400 per year in reservation costs, and the company will have 18 months to construct the infrastructure necessary to pipe the water east.
    Once the water is able to be delivered, Buda will pay a total of $658,825 in the first year of the 30-year contract — $593,125 for take or pay of 0.50 MGD, and $65,700 for a reservation fee for the remaining 0.50 MGD set aside for the city.
    The first year’s delivery will amount to only one-half million gallons per day, though that amount will rise to the full 1 million MGD over five years, the agreement states.
    Ruge said the city has spent about $80,000 hiring attorneys, hydrologists and engineers to study the project.
    “We are doing our homework on this,” Ruge said. “When we enter into any kind of contract, we don’t take things like this lightly.”
    Buda was first approached by Electro Purification in November 2011 to discuss a potential future water supply agreement. The matter was revisited in 2013 and last September the council directed staff to explore a contract for 1 MGD.
    - See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/01/buda-makes-waves-with-water-contract/#sthash.hIjtayfO.dpuf
    Posted: January 23, 2015 15:35   Go to blog
    Plan to Attend Texas Drought SummitJanuary 20, 2015 14:13
    Texans Urged to Attend Drought Summit Coming January 29 in San AntonioIs the Texas drought over? Not for thousands of small farm and ranch families that have absorbed devastating losses and are struggling to stay in business.

    All Texans who care about the survival of the state’s small farms and ranches are urged to attend the January 29 Texas Drought Summit at the Hilton San Antonio Airport Hotel in San Antonio...

    Texans Urged to Attend Drought Summit Coming January 29 in San Antonio

    Is the Texas drought over? Not for thousands of small farm and ranch families that have absorbed devastating losses and are struggling to stay in business.

    All Texans who care about the survival of the state’s small farms and ranches are urged to attend the January 29 Texas Drought Summit at the Hilton San Antonio Airport Hotel in San Antonio.
    Organizations that have already pledged to participate include the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Prairie View A&M University, USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and USDA Risk Management Agency.
    Numerous agricultural trade associations, lenders, and equipment dealers from around the state are expected to attend on behalf of their members. Newly elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller will speak.

    The summit will take stock of damage done to date by the Texas drought, provide a forum for sharing lessons learned, and connect farmers and ranchers with grants, low-interest loans, and other disaster-related services and assistance. Lunch will be provided. A $25 registration fee is requested, but will be waived for those in need.

    The day-long summit is being sponsored by Farm Aid, in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and Sustainable Food Center. National experts from Rural Advancement Foundation International and Farmers’ Legal Action Group will facilitate the discussion.

    Immediately following the summit (January 30-31, in the same hotel), the annual Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (TOFGA) conference will offer a full slate of workshops on building farm and ranch resilience and preparing for increasing weather extremes.

    Farm Aid is providing scholarships to 30 farm and ranch families that have suffered losses due to the drought, supporting their travel and registration for both the Drought Summit and TOFGA conference.

    Space is limited. To get more information, register for either event, or apply for a scholarship, go to www.tofga.org.


    . --30--        
    Since 1976, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has been helping people by championing small-scale, local, and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, promote healthy communities, and protect natural resources. More information is available at www.ncat.org or by calling 1-800-ASK-NCAT.
    Posted: January 20, 2015 14:13   Go to blog
    CARDtalk: CITIZEN ALERT - Unregulated Pumping Threatens Trinity AquiferJanuary 16, 2015 16:18


    A Houston company, Electro Purification (EP), has drilled multiple unregulated commercial wells in the area of FM 3237 at FM 150, near Hays City Store.

    Electro Purification wants to sell groundwater from these wells to a proposed subdivision in Mountain City, to the city of Buda, and to the Goforth Water District. The total amount of proposed pumping exceeds 5 million gallons per day - more than 1.8 billion gallons a year - greater than the combined total of the Wimberley Water Supply Corp., Aqua Texas, and Dripping Springs Water Supply Corp...


    A Houston company, Electro Purification (EP), has drilled multiple unregulated commercial wells in the area of FM 3237 at FM 150, near Hays City Store.

    Electro Purification wants to sell groundwater from these wells to a proposed subdivision in Mountain City, to the city of Buda, and to the Goforth Water District. The total amount of proposed pumping exceeds 5 million gallons per day - more than 1.8 billion gallons a year - greater than the combined total of the Wimberley Water Supply Corp., Aqua Texas, and Dripping Springs Water Supply Corp.

    This excessive pumping would occur in the same part of the already declining Trinity Aquifer into which many local private wells are drilled. It would cause a serious drop in area water levels, likely depleting a large number of home and business wells on which western Hays residents have depended for years. That would negatively impact property values for those properties and, as word spread, for our area.

    There is currently no regulatory entity that can manage this pumping to protect local well owners and their right to the water under their property. This location is just outside the eastern boundary and jurisdiction of our Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD). The EP wells are within the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) jurisdictional boundaries; however the EAA only has authority over the Edwards Aquifer. Because of the flawed legislation that created the EAA, they have no authority to manage groundwater pumping from the Trinity Aquifer. These wells are being drilled THROUGH and BELOW the Edwards Aquifer into the underlying Trinity Aquifer, the aquifer that supplies the groundwater for western Hays County, including the Wimberley and Dripping Springs areas (not to mention most of Blanco, Kendall, Bandera and many other Texas counties). The Edwards Aquifer is the primary water source for San Antonio.

    Aquifers are not self-contained units. Groundwater scientists believe that the waters of the Edwards Aquifer above and the Trinity Aquifer below comingle through cracks and fissures. This provides a crucial incentive for the Edwards Aquifer Authority to be concerned with excessive and unregulated pumping from the Trinity Aquifer.

    Well owners in the vicinity of FM 3237 and FM 150, along with officials of all the area Groundwater Conservation Districts and the Hays County Commissioners Court, are alarmed by this potential over-pumping of the Trinity Aquifer by Electro Purification. Read the Wimberley View front page story in the January 8, 2015 issue. Read the public letter from Hays County Commissioner Will Conley.

    We urge Citizens of Hays County to contact their elected officials and ask that action be taken to manage the proposed Electro Purification pumping to protect the water supply of hundreds of local well owners. Below are elected officials and agencies that should be contacted, and an upcoming local meeting schedule.

    Agencies
    Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD)
    Website: haysgroundwater.com
    Phone: 512-858-9253
    Rick Broun - manager2@haysgroundwater.com


    Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD)
    Website: www.bseacd.org
    Phone: (512) 282-8441
    Email: bseacd@bseacd.org


    Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA)
    Website: www.edwardsaquifer.org
    Phone: (210) 222-2204 or 1-800-292-1047
    Email: info@edwardsaquifer.org


    Plum Creek Conservation District (PCCD)
    Website: www.pccd.org
    Phone: 512.398.2383
    Email: info@pccd.org


    Texas Water Development Board (TWDB)
    Website: www.twdb.state.tx.us
    Phone: 512-463-7847


    Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
    Website: www.tceq.state.tx.us
    Phone: 512-239-1000 or 512-239-5500 (Office of the Commissioners)
    Email: see website


    Elected Officials

    Hays County Commissioners Court
    Website: www.co.hays.tx.us/commissioners-court.aspx
    Contact information under individual Commissioners


    State Representative Jason Isaac
    Website: www.isaacfortexas.com
    Phone: (512) 463-0647 Capitol Office, Email: Jason.Isaac@house.state.tx.us


    State Senator Judith Zaffirini
    Website: www.zaffirini.senate.state.tx.us
    Phone: (512) 463-0121
    Email: submit form on website


    State Senator Donna Campbell
    Website: www.campbell.senate.state.tx.us
    Phone: (512) 463-0125
    Email: submit form on website


    Meetings
    Below are several upcoming public meetings if you wish to voice your concern and spread information about this situation:

    Thursday, January 15th, 6:00 p.m.
    Barton Springs Edward Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD)
    1124 Regal Row, Austin
    On the agenda for Discussion and possible Action. Item 4A.
    Citizens Comment period available.


    Tuesday, January 20th at 6 p.m. (not usual 6:30 p.m.)
    Buda City Council Meeting (agenda not yet available)
    Buda City Hall, 121 Main Street
    Buda has not yet signed a contract with Electro Purification. It is reported that Electro Purification will make a presentation to the Buda Council on the 20th.
    Citizens Comment period available.


    Wednesday, January 21st at 6:00 p.m.
    Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District
    Wimberley Community Center, 14068 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, near Brookshire Bros. store. 


    Members of the HTGCD are familiar with the situation, but will be interested in input.
    Citizens Comment period available. 


    - CARD Steering Committee
    Posted: January 16, 2015 16:18   Go to blog
    Commissioner Conley Addresses Un-Regulated Well's in Hays CountyJanuary 14, 2015 16:53




     Will Conley        Commissioner Hays County, Texas     512-847-3159      will.conley@co.hays.tx.us

    Un-Regulated Well Field Development in Hays County

    Fellow Citizens,
        It has been brought to my attention that there is a large un-regulated well field being developedin mid-western HaysCounty near FM 3237.The company developing thisproject is a Houston-basedcompany called Electro Purification LLC.They propose todeliver to potential customersaround 6,000 acre feet of water per year out of this areaof the TrinityAquifer. As the representative of Precinct3, this gives me a greatdeal of concern...




     Will Conley
            Commissioner Hays County, Texas
         512-847-3159 


    Un-Regulated Well Field Development in Hays County


    Fellow Citizens,

        It has been brought to my attention that there is a large un-regulated well field being developedin mid-western HaysCounty near FM 3237.The company developing thisproject is a Houston-basedcompany called Electro Purification LLC.They propose todeliver to potential customersaround 6,000 acre feet of water per year out of this areaof the TrinityAquifer. As the representative of Precinct3, this gives me a greatdeal of concern. Firstly, I am worried about the potential impact on residential and commercial wells in the nearby area. Secondly, I am wary    ofthe overall health of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County. Someactions have been takenout of the Precinct3 office that I would like to bring to your attention.

        Commissioner Whisenant, RepresentativeIsaac, and I met with the principals of ElectroPurification around January, 8th2015. We each expressedour concerns over this amount of water being distributed out of this area. Electro Purification and theirrepresentatives ensured usthat the proper studieshave been done and thatthey felt confident their projectwouldn’t negativelyimpact the surrounding area or the Trinity Aquifer. I asked them to considerfive points.

    1.                 An exit strategy to the project;

    2.                   A binding agreement that protected area well owners,should the projectnegatively impact                 their water supplies;

    3.                   Sharing their costs in the project at this point intime;

    4.                   sharing thedata associated with theproject;

    5.                   Providing copies of any contracts or letters of intent they may have with potential customers


    Electro Purification stated thatthey would provide the information requested in items 4 and 5. However, they asked formore time to consider theirlevel of comforton requests 1, 2 and
    3. At this time, I have received no information.I have asked in two differentemails that they at least provide the well data to my office. I am hopeful thatthey will respond tothese requests, as it would provide us with an opportunity tohave a real conversation about the impact oftheir proposed operations.


        I, along with many of my colleagues, havediscussed this issue with thegroundwater districts in Hays County.We have asked that theygettogether and see if they can develop some reasonable legislation that might cover this gap in groundwaterregulatory authority in our community.To my knowledge the groundwater districtsare working together and will tryto deliver something to Representative Isaacin thenear future. This isa complicated issuethat will warrant atremendous amount of discussion. However I am optimisticthat our groundwater districts, working with Representative Isaac can come up witha good solution. The rule of capture should not be the only rule that appliestoa corporate entity withthe intentions of commercial distribution of water resources. I believe there must be some accountability on this wholeprocess beyond free market principles that will protect theprivate property rights of land ownersin an impacted area.

        As of yesterday, the Precinct 3 office has filed Public Information Act requests with thefollowing politicalsubdivisions: the City of Kyle, Mountain City, the City ofBuda, and Goforth Special Utility District. We filed these requests to ensure we have allinformation available in order to make the best decisions moving forward in our representation of the citizens of Hays County.We need to understand the entirety of theissue. If any information has been shared or discussed with these political subdivisions, access to that information will allow us to betterassess the situation. I do not want to imply that these political subdivisions aren’t cooperating with informal request. I believe thatimplementing formal requestswas simply the best way to move forwardin atimely manner. Hopefully, the Precinct 3 office will receive information from these entitiesin the near future that helpsus better understand the issues at hand.
       Commissioner WhisenantandI have placed an agenda item onthe Commissioners Court agendafor next Tuesday, January20th. In this Courtsession I plan to share with the Court the information we may haveabout this project.We will also discuss next steps.I assume this will beone of many meetingsthat we will have on this issue.

        In closing, this is a verydifficult and complicated issue. Thisproposed project may also havea direct impact on many peoplethroughout Hays County. It is important in thistime of tremendous change in HaysCounty that we do things wisely and carefully. We must also maintain our core principlesand beliefs. As difficultas that can be, it is the challengethat is before ustoday. I am confident with hard work, good government, and principled positions we will meet these challenges and leave Hays County and its people a betterand brighter future.


    Sincerely,



    Will Conley

    Hays County Commissioner, Precinct3

    Posted: January 14, 2015 16:53   Go to blog
    LCRA Water Management Plan - TCEQ Stakeholder Mtg. Jan. 7 January 14, 2015 16:53


    The TCEQ will hold a stakeholder input meeting on
    the LCRA Water Management Plan
    January 7, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
    TCEQ's Offices at 12100 Park Thirty-Five Circle
    Building E, Room 201, Austin, Texas.   



    "As part of the TCEQ's review of LCRA's amended water management plan (WMP), TCEQ is holding a stakeholder meeting to obtain input from Colorado River Basin stakeholders," Deputy Director L'Oreal W. Stepney said in a letter sent out on December 11, 2014. "We are specifically seeking comments on the amended application and TCEQ's report; however, any information is welcome...


    The TCEQ will hold a stakeholder input meeting on
    the LCRA Water Management Plan
    January 7, 2015, 10:00 a.m.
    TCEQ's Offices at 12100 Park Thirty-Five Circle
    Building E, Room 201, Austin, Texas.   




    "As part of the TCEQ's review of LCRA's amended water management plan (WMP), TCEQ is holding a stakeholder meeting to obtain input from Colorado River Basin stakeholders," Deputy Director L'Oreal W. Stepney said in a letter sent out on December 11, 2014. "We are specifically seeking comments on the amended application and TCEQ's report; however, any information is welcome."  "If you are unable to attend the scheduled meeting, you may submit written comments by January 30, 2015."  Click to see TCEQ notification letter for details.  
    Environmental Stewardship (ES) has prepared extensive comments in a letter that will be submitted to the agency (and distributed through our network) and presented as oral comments at the stakeholder meeting.
    ES' comments are based on Water Management and Planing Principles developed by a group of stakeholders in the basin.  Those principles form the foundation of the comments contained in the letter. The following is part of the opening remarks: 

    ES will attempt to show, through its letter and input throughout the remaining portion of this review process, that:

     

    A1. External factors have had catastrophic impacts: The current drought has demonstrated that the current water management plan (WMP) has not adequately addressed several external factors[i] that have catastrophically impacted the basin, and, if left unchecked, will sabotage any attempt to meet the WMP's objectives unless likewise managed.

     
    A2. The extent and severity of this drought is man-made: The drought has demonstrated that, though the lack of rain[ii] has brought us to this condition, the extent and severity of the drought is primarily a man-made phenomenon. This drought is likely worse than the drought-of-record due to man's management practices and unrealistic expectations[iii] (some of which have been codified in law).
     
    A3. Conjunctive management is needed: Future management practices will, of necessity, need to include conjunctive[iv] management of the land, the surface waters, and the aquifers that intersect the basin.
     
    A4. Environmental flows are essential: Future management practices must guarantee a solid base of environmental flows to meet critical subsistence and threshold flow needs of the river and bay[v]. Environmental flows are essential water demands.


    Environmental Stewardship is especially interested in gaining agreement and support that the WMP guarantee

    essential safety net environmental flows for the river and bay. 
     
     and include "LCRA WMP" in the subject line of your email.  

    [i] In the upper contributing zone: the impacts of the following on Highland Lake inflows: Lack of brush control, small surface water impoundments, agricultural use of groundwater for irrigation (especially cotton). In the cities: the impacts of over-sizing water treatment and distribution systems such that they cannot be safely operated at reduced/drought flow levels without dropping below residual chlorine standards.
    [ii] Rainfall records and trends tend to indicate that rainfall over the contributing zone of the upper basin has been as much as 30% greater during the first six years of the current drought when compared to the same period in the DOR.
    [iii] It is not reasonable to expect that water supply will be adequate in drought and severe drought conditions to enable the supply and use of the same amount of water to FIRM customers during drought as these customers receive during wet conditions. There needs to be a means of recognizing and supplying "essential needs" while reducing and/or eliminating non-essential uses. Unfortunately this expectation has been written into the adjudication orders that created the LCRA water management plan and the terms and conditions the LCRA must meet in managing FIRM vs interruptible water.

    [iv] Dictionary.com: conjunctive /kənˈdʒʌŋktɪv/ adjective1.joining; connective 2.joined 3.of or relating to conjunctions or their use 4.(logic) relating to, characterized by, or containing a conjunction noun5.a less common word for conjunction (sense 3) Derived Forms conjunctively,adverb.Word Origin C15: from Late Latin conjunctīvus,from Latin conjungereto conjoin.

    [v] Lacking such line-in-the-sand safety-net practices, the Colorado river will, like the Rio Grande and the western Colorado River, cease to flow to its bay and cease to be a sound ecological environment. The lack of freshwater inflows will bring dramatic ecological and economic impacts to the bay system and those who depend on the bay for a livelihood ... and on Texas heritage.
    _______________________

    Background:
    After a month of stakeholder meetings the LCRA Water Management Plan Amendments were approved by the LCRA Board and will be sent to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for review and approval. Stakeholders made adjustments to the proposed plan that improved environmental flows to the bay during drought conditions and provided improvements in interruptible flows to irrigation interests.   With these improvements, the stakeholders supported moving the plan to TCEQ for final review and approval.  The plan must be approved by TCEQ before it can be implemented. 

    It isn't a perfect plan but it's the best we can do at this point in the process.   Though environmental flows to the bay were improved slightly, Matagorda Bay and its estuaries are still at significant risk during a repeat of the drought of record like we are currently experiencing.  Scientific studies, done during the LCRA-SAWS project, provide a wealth of information on what the river and bay need to stay healthy during drought, dry, and wet periods.  "Threshold" inflows to the bay, the most critical life-support for the bay during drought, are well below attainment levels approved by the TCEQ for the Colorado River and Matagorda Bay (see sidebar below for details). 

    The LCRA Board, at the same meeting, approved funding for the Lane City Reservoir Project that will construct a 40,000 acre off-channel reservoir in Wharton County.  Though the reservoir will be of great benefit to the Highland Lakes, firm water customers and irrigation interests in the lower basin, it comes at a direct cost to the already stressed bay.  The reservoir is projected to capture as much as 90,000 acre-feet of water per year (filling the reservoir twice) that would otherwise flow into Matagorda Bay. As we proceed with final development of the Highland Lakes Water Management Plan, we will also need to amend the plan to take this new reservoir into consideration and secure the safety net on the bay and estuaries system

    Environmental Stewardship's concerns:
    After meeting with the LCRA staff and reviewing the modeling data, Environmental Stewardship submitted comments, and follow-up comments, to the staff and final comments to the Board that made the following points: 

    1) The LCRA has made changes to the TCEQ recommended framework that arbitrarily deny water for environmental flows and do not adequately protect Matagorda Bay and estuaries. Though these concerns were reduced, they were not eliminated.

    2) The LCRA has added a "caps model" that arbitrarily reduces water provided for environmental flows during critical drought periods while making more water available in "good times".  Again, these concerns were reduced, but not eliminated. 

    3) The LCRA continues to demand surface water for power plant operations even though it has recently obtained permits from the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District for groundwater to supply the Bastrop Power Plant.  The LCRA staff included the groundwater use at the Lost Pines power plant.  This adjustment in the model resulted in increased flows in the lower basin and a 5,000 acre-foot/year increase in the combined storage of the Highland Lakes.   This is a very good and constructive amendment to the plan.   
     



    Environmental Stewardship is especially interested in gaining agreement and support that the WMP guarantee

    essential safety net environmental flows for the river and bay. 
     

     and include "LCRA WMP" in the subject line of your email.  
       
    Posted: January 14, 2015 16:53   Go to blog
    Los Angeles, City of WaterJanuary 04, 2015 14:27
    The New York TimesLos Angeles, City of WaterBy JACQUES LESLIEDEC. 6, 2014 LOS ANGELES is the nation’s water archvillain, according to public perception, notorious for its
    usurpation of water hundreds of miles away to slake the thirst of its ever-expanding population. As a character in “Chinatown,” the noirish 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson that churns through the city’s water history, puts it, “Either you bring the water to L.A., or you bring L.A. to the water.”
    Getty ImagesRecently, however, Los Angeles has reduced its reliance on outside sources of water...

    The New York Times

    Los Angeles, City of Water

    LOS ANGELES is the nation’s water archvillain, according to public perception, notorious for its
    usurpation of water hundreds of miles away to slake the thirst of its ever-expanding population. As a character in “Chinatown,” the noirish 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson that churns through the city’s water history, puts it, “Either you bring the water to L.A., or you bring L.A. to the water.”
    Posted: January 04, 2015 14:27   Go to blog
    2015 Preview: States React to New Era of Water ScarcityJanuary 03, 2015 14:18
    Friday, 02 January 2015 09:08Water is priority in state Legislatures and governors’ offices.
    By Brett Walton
    Circle of Blue
     Photo © Matt Black / Circle of BlueJohn Burchard, General Manager of the Alpaugh Community Services District in California’s Central Valley, walks a ditch bank on the outskirts of town. A horrific drought pushed water to the forefront of state politics in 2014...
    Water is priority in state Legislatures and governors’ offices.

    By Brett Walton
    Circle of Blue
     
    Photo © Matt Black / Circle of Blue
    John Burchard, General Manager of the Alpaugh Community Services District in California’s 
    Central Valley, walks a ditch bank on the outskirts of town. A horrific drought pushed water to the forefront of state politics in 2014. 
















    California, its hand forced in 2014 by a nasty drought, brought its groundwater laws out of the Gold Rush era and into line with nearly every other state in the Union. New York’s Democratic governor banned fracking for natural gas, in large part because of concerns about water pollution.

    Kansas debated how to cope with a shrinking Ogallala Aquifer, its main source of irrigation water. Voters in California, Florida, and Maine endorsed new state spending on water conservation, water treatment plants, pollution cleanup, and river restoration. And more than one dozen states, spooked by drought and needing guidance, discussed or submitted new water plans.

    Taken together, these actions represent an awakening in the United States that water supplies are not as abundant as once thought. A series of severe droughts in recent years — from Texas in 2011 to the Midwest in 2012 to California today — is the frontline reality of a hotter, drier era that is forcing state leaders to take stock of their water assets and reevaluate laws, regulations, and investment strategies.
    More is coming in 2015.

    In states that voted for water spending, leaders this year will open the public purse. The Texas Water Development Board, a loan-making agency, will distribute funds from a $US 2 billion pot of money that voters approved in 2013. Applications for the first round of loans are due in February and the loans will close by December. Though much of the money will be spent on new pipes, wells, reservoirs, and treatment plants, state law requires at least 20 percent go toward water conservation and recycling.

    The Florida Legislature also will spend a pile of cash, in its case from a fund seeded by real estate taxes and designated for land and water conservation. Approved at the ballot box in November, the fund could generate between $US 10 billion and $US 18 billion over 20 years for land purchases and infrastructure investments tied to improvements in water quality.

    Montana lawmakers will consider a $US 336 million infrastructure package that was proposed by the Democratic governor. Thanks to an oil boom in neighboring North Dakota, border counties in the eastern third of the state are outgrowing their water and sewer grids. Roughly one-sixth of the package is dedicated to water, sewer, and irrigation projects.

    In California, the nine-member California Water Commission is laying the groundwork for expending some of the $US 7.5 billion in bond money that voters approved in November. The commission, whose members are appointed by the governor, must write the rules for deciding priorities.

    Groundwater on the Agenda

    Debates about groundwater, as in 2014, will continue to echo in statehouses. Wisconsin, for one, will be a battleground for groundwater regulation. Lawmakers rejected a bill last session that would have forced regulators to approve new wells without considering cumulative effects of groundwater pumping on rivers and lakes. The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters hopes to keep attention on the state’s aquifers, making groundwater legislation one of its top priorities in 2015. Their concern is well placed. An explosion of high-volume irrigation wells in central Wisconsin is causing streams to dry up.

    The loudest chatter, however, may come from Texas, a state in which groundwater is essential to urban growth and agriculture. The regulatory landscape, though, has been muddled recently by court cases that suggest landowners should be compensated if their ability to pump groundwater is restricted. Texas faces shrinking water tables and high demand for groundwater, a combination of factors that is driving keen interest in the subterranean resource.

    Texas lawmakers will consider two important issues, according to Mary Kelly, head of Parula, an Austin-based consultancy. First, they will look at the length of water-use permits that are handed out by groundwater management districts. Private developers that want to sell or lease groundwater to cities desire longer permits, to secure financing.

    Lawmakers will also debate whether brackish groundwater, the slightly salty supplies that Texas has in abundance, should be regulated in the same way as fresh groundwater. Brackish groundwater was one of the issues that legislators in both chambers studied in depth during recess.

    But changes in the state’s leadership add uncertainty to the legislative process this year, Kelly said.
    “We have a lot of new faces in the Senate and the House, new committee chairs, as well as a new governor and lieutenant governor,” Kelly told Circle of Blue. “That makes it uncertain how much will move on water.”

    In addition to new laws, several states — Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, and Montana among them — will be finalizing water plans that were introduced in 2014. Both Arkansas and Colorado are proposing multibillion dollar infrastructure projects. In Arkansas’s case, new canals will wean farmers from unsustainable groundwater use. In Colorado, the growing cities of the Front Range are looking to move more water across the continental divide, from the Colorado River Basin.

    Other states, meanwhile, will hope that long-running legal disputes will be resolved this year in the U.S. Supreme Court. Texas has sued New Mexico over declining flows in the Rio Grande, while Florida successfully petitioned the justices to consider Georgia’s use of water from shared rivers.

    Even if lawmakers avoid big actions, the water plan discussions and lawsuits ensure that water will be a top-of-the policy-heap concern in 2015.
    Posted: January 03, 2015 14:18   Go to blog
    TRIB+Water Volume: 2 Issue: 25 December 17, 2014 10:47

    Welcome to Trib+Water, a water news wrap-up and analysis prepared every other week by The Texas Tribune and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. We bring you the latest news and events concerning the river systems of Texas and important water issues on a state and regional level. Vol: 2 Issue: 25: ...

    Welcome to Trib+Water, a water news wrap-up and analysis prepared every other week by The Texas Tribune and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. We bring you the latest news and events concerning the river systems of Texas and important water issues on a state and regional level.
    Vol: 2 Issue: 25:


    Treating water as a commodity neglects fundamental differences between the two resources that we ignore at our own peril, Sharlene Leurig, the water program director at Ceres, writes in TribTalk.


    by Colin McDonald and Jessi Loerch



    In which we review the latest from Colin's excellent Rio Grande adventure. Check out the dispatches and photos!





    In this week’s Q&A, we interview James Griffin, the Bob Bullock Chair in Public Policy and Finance at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service.





    The Texas Water Journal Forum, focusing on the early history of disputes over use of the Edwards Aquifer, will be held Jan. 20 at the JC Kellam Building at Texas State University in San Marcos.  





    Experts on water conservation and agriculture say stewardship of private rural lands is the key to the future of conserving water in Texas, where 95 percent of the land is privately owned.





    Naturalists from the Dallas/Fort Worth area joined Andrew Sansom of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment for a tour of Big Spring where the Texas Stream Team is monitoring water quality.





    The drop in groundwater levels in the El Paso area following a decade-long drought in the Upper Rio Grande Basin is particularly alarming because the rate of recharge in the area is too slow to compensate for the growing rate of pumping.





    Farmers in the Upper Rio Grande Valley are struggling as water authorities have been forced to cut allotments because of the severe drought.







    Using data from the Texas Water Development Board's reservoir status tracker, our auto-updating map visualizes the current state of Texas reservoirs.







     
    Posted: December 17, 2014 10:47   Go to blog

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