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