BASTROP – A state district judge in Bastrop on Wednesday heard arguments for and against the contention that four landowners are entitled to a new hearing because they were wrongfully excluded by the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District from participating in a 2013 administrative hearing.
The 2013 hearing resulted in a permit to water marketer End-Op LP (now known as Recharge Water) that allows massive amounts of groundwater to be pumped and exported from Lee and Bastrop counties. The Oct. 18 hearing was part of a legal challenge to that permit.
Judge Carson Campbell ruled in favor of the landowners from the bench Wednesday on the question of whether he even has the authority to review the District’s decision to exclude them. A ruling on the landowners’ right to protest the permit is pending from Judge Campbell.
Environmental Stewardship became a Waterkeeper Affiliate organization on September 23, 2016. As a new Waterkeeper Affiliate, Environmental Stewardship works to protect and preserve the Texas Colorado River, associated aquifers, and the bays and estuaries of the Texas Gulf Coast by combining its first-hand knowledge of the waterway with an unwavering commitment to the rights of the community, to ecological health of waterways and aquifers, and to the rule of law.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Steve Box in Austin, TX.
“Waterkeeper Alliance is thrilled to have Steve Box, Executive Director, to be the eyes, ears, and voice for this vital watershed and community,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Every community deserves to have swimmable, drinkable, fishable and flowing water, and Mr. Box is the right leader to fight to protect the surface water and groundwater supplies in the Colorado River basin.” For more information on see our webpage ES’ Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliation. Continue reading →
Groundwater Availability Model improvements will include groundwater-surface water integration for the Colorado River and the Central Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer
After seven years of advocating for action on groundwater-surface water interaction issues in Central Texas, we are on the verge of a major step forward in our efforts to protect the Colorado River and its tributaries from over-pumping of groundwater. A recent contract between the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and INTERA Incorporated will play a vital step in helping planners understand and manage this important ecological and hydrological relationship, thereby achieving one of our major goals – to establishing a science link between groundwater and surface water to inform policy and management decisions. Continue reading →
Lawyers for Environmental Stewardship and Landowners will make oral arguments before the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors on August 13, 7:00 p.m. at the Bastrop Convention Center. ES and Landowners are requesting that the decision by the ALJ to deny party status be reversed and remanded back to SOAH for contested case hearing.
The public is encouraged to attend. Though public comments will not be heard, the face of the people needs to be seen. This is a very important hearing about your rights to defend your interests in the groundwater beneath your land.
Environmental Stewardship (ES) and Landowners (Andrew Meyer, Bette Brown, and Darwyn Hanna) have filed an appeal of the decision by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to deny party status in the End Op contested case hearing. The request was filed with the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors on August 1, 2014 and will be heard at a special meeting on August 13, 2014 in Bastrop, TX. The time and location of the meeting has not yet been established. Continue reading →
Forestar (USA) Real Estate Group, Inc. has filed suit in the 335th Judicial District in Lee County against the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District and its Board of Directors (Case No. 15,369). The suit is 1) an appeal of the Boards’ decision to deny Forestar’s application for 33,000 acre-feet per year of the 45,000 acre-feet per year of groundwater it requested, and 2) a claim for the taking or damaging of its property, and for its damages and attorney’s fees due to the District’s actions (a takings claim).
On December 16, 2013, the Board of Directors held a rehearing on the Forestar application requesting 45,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year. The Board has previously granted Forestar a permit for 12,000 acre-feet per year.
The hearing was a well attended and well organized. We thank the Board and staff for working with Environmental Stewardship and others to ensure that the public had an opportunity to hear the arguments of the Applicant (Forestar) and District Staff prior to making public comments. We also thank the Board for allowing the public to pool its time so that we could make our arguments in a manner that could be heard and understood by the Board, the Applicant, and the Public.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board adjourned the hearing but did not take action on the application. Our impression is that the Board will take some time to review the information provided at the hearing and make a written response to the Applicant early next year. At that time the decision of the Board on the application will be final. The board can, however, render its decision any time before that date.
Forestar’s Request for Rehearing was “essentially denied” by Lost Pines Board of Directors.
THANK YOU BOARD for STANDING STRONG!We will have your back.
In a bitter-sweet victory, and to a standing ovation of local landowners and citizens, the Lost Pines Board of Directors “essentially denied” Forestar’s request for a rehearing of their application for 45,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year when the motion failed to get a second and no action was taken to grant or deny the request. “This [request] has essentially been denied,” said President Mike Talbot. Continue reading →
An Open Letter to the
Lost Pines GCD Board of Directors from its Constituents STAND STRONG!
RE: Forestar (USA) Real Estate Group, Inc. Motion for Rehearing
Dear Board of Directors,
Forestar’s request for a rehearing on the permits LPGCD granted earlier this year was on the agenda for the Board’s September 18, 2013, meeting, but was postponed until the October 16, 2013,Board meeting. Several events pertinent to this permit have occurred since that postponement, but the message from the coalition of landowners and citizens who want to protect the future of Lee and Bastrop Counties remains the same: Stand strong in your duty to protect and conserve the aquifers under our two counties.
Landowners in Bastrop and Lee counties who were recently denied the right to be heard in a contested case hearing are appealing the decision.
The landowners had sought “party status” in the End Op contested case hearing being held before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). This administrative decision has broad, significant implications throughout Texas for landowners wanting to protect the groundwater in place beneath their lands. Click here for decision
Decision by Judge on 5 hour End Op hearing due early September.
The Aquifer Protectors! From L to R, Eric Allmon (attorney for Environmental Stewardship), Michele Gangnes (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Andy Meyer (Paige landowner), Darwyn Hanna (Bastrop landowner), Ernie Bogart (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Betz Brown (Lee County landowner), Don Grissom (pro bono attorney for landowners Meyer, Hanna and Brown), Steve Box (Executive Director Environmental Stewardship)
In a preliminary hearing on Monday, August 12, 2013, Administrative Law Judge Michael O’Malley from the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), heard testimony and arguments from End Op (applicant), Environmental Stewardship and three landowners (petitioners), and counsel for the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District regarding the petitoners request for “party” status. After 5 hours of testimony and cross-examination, Judge O’Malley advised that he will receive written responses by August 29th and will issue an order on his decision in early September. A hearing on the merits of the contested case hearing will likely be held in February, 2014. Continue reading →
Big Money (Forestar) rolls out big guns (Lawyers) to intimidate guardians (Lost Pines GCD Board) into capitulating (giving them what the want) rather than protecting our groundwater resources. We need your help to let the Board know that they are doing the right thing in protecting our groundwater and WE HAVE THEIR BACK. Ask them to please “stand tall and stay the course”.
Plan to attend the July 17, 2013, meeting of the Lost Pines GCD Board at 7:00 pm at Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestunt Street, Bastrop, TX. We will be providing more information about this meeting and what you can do to support the Board. Continue reading →
Mina Elementary 4th grade “Green Team” commented to Board
Bastrop, TX – The people of Bastrop and Lee counties gained a MAJOR VICTORY at last night’s Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District hearings. The Board of Directors listened … and they acted on our behalf.
THANK YOU Lost Pines BOARD MEMBERS!
1) LCRA’s request for 10,000 acre-feet/year was cut back 50% to 5,000 acre-feet/year except in years when the counties are in drought conditions.
2) Forestar’s request for 45,000 acre-feet/year to export was cut back 75% to 12,000 acre-feet/year.
3) Environmental Stewardship and a group of landowners were accepted for timely filing of their request for “party status” at the End Op contested case hearing to be held before the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Continue reading →
Bastrop, TX May 8, 2013. Environmental Stewardship has requested “party status” in the contested case hearings requested by Aqua Water Supply Corporation concerning the groundwater permit application by Forestar (USA) Group seeking 45,000 acre-feet/year from the Simsboro Aquifer; End Op, LP seeking 56,000 acre-feet/year ; and the Lower Colorado River Authority seeking 10,000 acre-feet/year. Continue reading →
The Forestar, End Op, and LCRA applications will harm existing permitted wells, the environment, and are far in excess of the DFC and MAG (defined below). We, a coalition of Environmental Stewardship, Neighbors for Neighbors, Lost Pines Sierra Club, and Groups United to Advocate Responsible Development “GUARD,” believe that, if permitted at all, individual permits should first be reduced to levels actually supported by the application and then all permits reduced overall as necessary to an aggregate level that, including existing permits, protects the Adopted Desired Future Conditions. In summary, if permitted at all, Forestar and End Op qualify for less than 5% of the water they are seeking. In addition, the District needs to factor in the impact of existing permits before issuing any new permits. This has not been done. Continue reading →
What does “draw-down” resulting from groundwater pumping look like on a map? As you may know, the Desired Future Conditions are established in terms of the draw-down, in feet, of aquifers in Bastrop and Lee counties and throughout the District.
Recently, Environmental Stewardship obtained visual images based on the Groundwater Availability Model (GAM) used by the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District to evaluate the impact of proposed pumping from current permit applications on the Simsboro Aquifer. Draw-down, measured in feet, is indicated on the contour lines of the maps below.
Here are the results of the meetings held over the last two nights. We had an overflow crowd at the Wednesday meeting which delayed the start of the hearing for about 20 minutes; we estimate 200-300 people showed up to comment. Lines of people were able to que up for comments and the combined hearing and board meeting lasted until about 10:30 p.m. The End Op Hearing on Thursday had very good citizen attendance – likely another 200-300 people – and lasted 3 1/2 hours. During the Board deliberations after the hearing we learned that Aqua Water Supply Corporation is also contesting the End Op permit application.
The Board of Directors has HEARD THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE. Both Judges were at the Wednesday night meetings … THANK YOU JUDGES PAPE and FISCHER.
THE BEST VOICE OF THE PEOPLE … IS THE FACE AND TESTIMONY OF THE PEOPLE.
This is INSANE but there is a SANE PATH FORWARD. Yes, it is insane that the Lost Pines GCD is on the verge of permitting five and a half times (5.6) more water from the Simsboro aquifer than is available, however, Environmental Stewardship has provided a sane path forward …but it is up to you and your local elected officials to demand a sane path forward.
BE REASONABLE! BE CONSERVATIVE!
DO NOT PERMIT MORE WATER THAN IS AVAILABLE!
Demand that the Board deny these permits until they have
adequate legal findings to support an informed decision.
This is INSANE. Lost Pines GCD is on the verge of permitting five and a half (5.6) times more water from the Simsboro aquifer than is available. The total amount of Modeled Available Groundwater (MAG) from the Simsboro Aquifer by 2010 is 29,556 acre-feet/year per the Lost Pines Management Plan. Lost Pines is currently considering permit applications for 119,199 acre-feet/yr which is 4 times more water than is available for pumping. Adding the current 45,365 acre-feet/year already permitted brings the total to 164,884 acre-feet/yr which is 5.6 times the amount of water currently available (without considering Environmental Stewardship’s ecological concerns). So far, the General Manager has recommended approval of ALL the applications that have been presented to the Board of Directors. See Permit Concerns for copies of GM Recommendations.
LOST PINES GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
will VOTE on the following applications at their next Board Meeting
Heart of Texas Suppliers, LP
Lower Colorado River Authority
Forestar (USA) Real Estate Group, Inc.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2013,
Regular Board Meeting 6:00 P.M.
Giddings City Hall, 118 East Richmond St., Giddings, TX 78942
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS LOST PINES GROUNDWATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT will hold a public hearing and vote on the following applications End Op , LP Manville WSC
Impact of Alcoa pumping 1990-1999 on left side of graph.
Environmental Stewardship is very concerned about actions that might be taken by the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors related to the subject well permit application by Alcoa. We believe Alcoa’s wells in the Milam County portion of the Simsboro Aquifer currently impact, and the additional wells will further impact and endanger, the Colorado River and its tributaries and existing permit holders in Bastrop and Lee counties. Based on the information available, and for the reasons stated below, we oppose issuance of the requested permits. We further request that Environmental Stewardship be granted an opportunity to provide input at that hearing as an affected party. Click here for ES letter to Post Oak Savannah GCD.
Continue reading →
New Alcoa wells (blue dots) in Milam County along Lee County border.
NOTICE OF A PUBLIC HEARING
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Milano Civic Center
120 West Ave. E
Milano, Texas 76556
Citing concerns expressed by local landowners concerning the recent notices issued by ALCOA, ALCOA today requested that the hearings scheduled by the District, to consider applications filed by ALCOA on March 13, 2012, be re-scheduled for a later date.
Originally, the District had set these hearings for August 14, 2012, 5:30 pm, at the District’s offices. It is anticipated that new notices in local newspapers and to landowners will be issued in time for hearings to be held on these applications at the regular Board of Director’s meeting of September 11, 2012. It is further anticipated that these re-scheduled hearings will be held at the Milano Civic Center, 120 West Ave. E, Milano, TX. Please see actual notices, for actual locations, dates, and times.
The Board of Directors of the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, at 5:30 P.M., for the purpose of receiving public comments on the following applications for amendments to existing permits. If you have a well or spring near the Alcoa site you are encouraged to attend. Click here for copy of hearing notice.
June 21, 2012 Austin, TX The Texas Water Development Board dismissed the evidence presented in Environmental Stewardship’s appeal of Groundwater Management Area 12 without substantiating their claims.
“Where we met the burden of proof by providing compelling evidence, the staff has argued that the evidence was either “out of context,” “outside the scope of these proceedings,” or “conflicting and inconclusive” … without bothering to substantiate the reasons for these conclusions. We consider this an abandonment of their duty to you … the Board, to us … the Petitioner, and to Texans on both sides of the issues,” said Steve Box, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship, in comments to the Board. Click here for ES letter to the board and ES GMA-12 Petition. Continue reading →
The Texas Water Development Board staff report on the appeal of the desired future conditions of Groundwater Management Area 12 recommends that the Board find in favor of the Districts. Continue reading →
Surface water impacts focus of March 7 hearing in Milano, TX
Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA12) is located over the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer Group.
Bastrop, Texas. March 7, 2012. The Texas Water Development Board held a groundwater hearing on March 7, 2012, in the Milano Civic Center, Milano, TX. Environmental Stewardship presented evidence on its appeal of the adopted desired future conditions of Groundwater Management Area 12 (GMA-12). The hearing focused on the damage to surface water and water rights resulting form over-pumping the aquifers. The public was encouraged to attend but did not have the opportunity to comment at the hearing. Interested persons had 10 business days in which to submit sworn written evidence. Other interested party evidence was provided by George Rice (Hydrologist), Neighbors for Neighbors, Curtis Chubb, Ph.D., and Environmental Stewardship.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is expected to render a decision on the appeal at their June 21, 2012, Board Meeting to be held in Austin, TX. The staff recommendations should be available to the public on June 14.
SMITHVILLE – A no-cost Texas Watershed Steward Workshop on water-quality issues related to the Lost Pines Region will be held from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on June 12 at the American Legion Hall, 145 American Legion Road, Smithville. Continue reading →
Environmental Stewardship is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit whose purposes are to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the earth’s natural resources to meet current and future needs of the environment and humans (Public Policy); to gather and use scientific information to restore and sustain ecological services provided by environmental systems (Science & Ecology); and to provide environmental education and outreach in order to encourage public stewardship (Outreach & Education). Continue reading →
The Honorable Carson Campbell of the 21st Judicial District Court of Bastrop County will hold a hearing on End Op, LP’s “request for declaratory judgment on lack of jurisdiction.” (See background below). The hearing will be held on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at the Bastrop County Court House, 804, Pecan Street, Bastrop, TX 78602. The public is invited to attend. Landowner attorneys will argue before the judge for dismissal of the request.
That’s a lot of legalese. Basically, End Op is attempting to throw a stick in our spokes and derail our appeal in state court to gain “party status”. This is End Op’s ongoing attempt to deny local landowners their due process rights to oppose End Op’s permit application to export 46,000 ac-ft/yr (almost 15 billion gallons) of groundwater from Bastrop and Lee counties to feed the thirst of the I-35/TX-130 growth corridor. End Op has yet to find customers for that water after years of hustling.
The TCEQ is in the final phase of reviewing the LCRA’s application to amend its Highland Lakes Water Management Plan (WMP). Stakeholders from all sides of the issues made oral comments and submitted written comments during the month-long comment period that ended last week.
Environmental Stewardship (ES) provided both oral and written comments urging protection of the Colorado River and Madagorda Bay by guaranteeing “essential life support” level environmental flows. ES also urged the TCEQ and LCRA to take a leadership role in doing the studies necessary to understand why more rain in the contributing watershed for the Highland Lakes has resulted in less inflows.