Board votes in split decision to appeal Judge Campbell’s decision favoring landowners

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)

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 an ironic twist, having denied Landowners a seat at the table in the original 2014 contested case hearing involving End Op’s application for a massive groundwater permit, the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District’s Board of Directors essentially did it again Thursday night. The Board voted 4 to 2 to appeal Judge Campbell’s decision favoring the Landowners. This time, saying they are appealing because they want to be sure they have … A SEAT AT THE TABLE.  

The fact of the matter is, by appealing the Judge’s decision, they are opposing and not accepting the judge’s ruling that the District erred in denying landowners a voice, no matter what they say is their reason for appealing.  Only time will tell whether the District has actually softened its position on landowners rights to protest permits.  Up until now, the District’s lawyers have aggressively taken the same position as End OP, that the landowners do not deserve standing to protest the permit.  

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. 

End Op files notice of appeal in Bastrop groundwater case

District leaves appeal open to End Op by inaction

Environmental Stewardship Executive Director Steve Box on Wednesday urges the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District board not to appeal a court decision allowing a group of Bastrop County landowners to challenge a permit for Recharge Water to withdraw 15 billion gallons of groundwater annually from the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. MARY HUBER/BASTROP ADVERTISER

January 25 2018.

The Lost Pines District “tabled” any action on Judge Carson Campbell’s ruling earlier in January. We did not want the District to appeal the Judge’s ruling in favor of four landowners, but we did not want the District to create a vacuum either.

The District’s failure to move forward with a hearing in adherence to the judge’s order has left uncertainty in the District’s position, creating an opportunity for End Op to continue the litigation for now through an appeal.  As such, yesterday End Op acted on that opening and filed an appeal of the Judge’s Final Judgement in the Court of Appeals for the Third District of Texas (Austin).

The District should respect the judge’s ruling and expeditiously grant a hearing to Landowners (Plaintiffs), thereby putting an end to the District’s enabling of End Op’s recent appeal.

Sitting-on-their-hand makes the District complicit in the appeal that End Op has now filed.

To clearly move in adherence to Judge Campbell’s ruling, the District needs to take two affirmative public actions: 1) immediately direct their attorneys not to appeal, and 2) affirmatively granting a hearing on the End Op permit application that includes the Landowners as parties.

Appeal of judge’s ruling on Bastrop groundwater issue up in the air

Article by Mary Huber, Bastrop Advertiser



Board delays decision on appealing Judge’s ruling favoring landowners

 The Lost Pines’ Board was unable to make a decision on appealing Judge Carson Campbell’s ruling favoring landowners at its January 17 meeting.   Read today’s article in the Bastrop Advertiser/Statesmen The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District’s Board of Directors declined to make a decision on its option to appeal  Judge Carson Campbell’s January 4,…

Judge Hears Arguments on Landowners’ Right to Protest Groundwater Export, Ruling to Come

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.

ES becomes a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate

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.  

Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF)

New Group Launches Fight To Protect Local Groundwater and Aquifers


Bastrop County Court House

ELGIN – Veterans of a long-standing fight to protect the area’s groundwater have joined forces and launched a new organization to help lead that effort.

The new group, the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF), includes volunteers from the League of Independent Voters, Environmental Stewardship, Sierra Club and Neighbors for Neighbors.


SAWDF response to Bastrop Advertiser’s misleading article on July 21, 2016.

Environmental Stewardship Celebrates a Water Achievement in the Central Texas

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  gma_12issues 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.  …

Hearing on End Op’s Obstruction Attempt; Beal flies under radar

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.

Local Water Marketer Beal flies under the radar

LCRA Water Management Plan in final review at TCEQ

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.

Board Delivers Verdict after LCRA Whines

The Lost Pines Board, at its January 21st meeting, delivered its decision on the LCRA’s application to amend Condition (1) of its groundwater pumping operating permit after LCRA whined that the Board was paying too much attention to the public’s concerns, especially Environmental Stewardship.…