What is the error cited by Judge Campbell in Final Judgment?

Bastrop County Courthouse

In our last post I left you with the comment:

“After nearly an hour of closed discussion in executive session the Board returned to public session where they openly asked questions of their lawyers and engaged in a discussion with the members of the public who were present.  They then retired to a second executive session before taking any action, apparently in reaction to the public’s comments … all firsts in our 10+ years of experience with this Board. “

We told you we were assessing the implications of those discussions and that we would be back to you on this in the near future. 

HERE IS OUR REPLY:

Environmental Stewardship’s opinion regarding the error cited by Judge Campbell and how the error can be fixed:

The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (District) has indicated through its President Mike Talbot that it is interested in “fixing” the error that was cited by Judge Carson Campbell in his Final Judgment.

The Texas Water Code establishes that a person particularly affected by a permit must be allowed to participate as a party in a contested case hearing before a GCD.

With regard to the End Op application, the landowners’ ownership interest in the groundwater beneath their property was not disputed. The expected drainage of that groundwater was not disputed.  So, the only question was whether the drainage of the landowners water meant that they were particularly affected.

 The Plaintiff landowners claimed that drainage of landowners’ groundwater was, itself, a particular impact that meant they were affected, and so deserved to participate in the hearing on End Op’s application. The Defendant District claimed the drainage of Landowners’ groundwater did not mean they were particularly affected. Thus the “error” of the District is in its claim that a person is not particularly affected merely because their groundwater is being drained.

It follows that to “fix” the “error” cited by the Court, the District must recognize that the drainage of a landowners’ groundwater means that a person is affected in a particularized way, and that the concerns of the landowners can be addressed by allowing them to participate as “parties” throughout the permitting process, including, but not limited to, contested case hearings associated with the permitting process.

 

Steve Box, Executive Director

Environmental Stewardship,

a WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE Affiliate

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