LCRA Prehearing Conference on Party Status

Environmental Stewardship and Landowners admitted as Parties

Protestants admitted as parties to LCRA Contested Case Hearing at December 19th Prehearing Conference.

A hearing to determine party status of 127 individuals and organizations protesting LCRA’s application for a permit to pump groundwater from Bastrop County was held on December 19, 2018. The hearing was ordered by State Office of Administrative Hearing Law Judges (ALJs) Michael J. O’Malley and Laura M. Valdez.

Environmental Stewardship and a group of 43 landowners were admitted as parties to the contested case hearing to be held next fall.  Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, Aqua Water Supply Corporation, City of Elgin, and Recharge Water, LP, along with 12 unrepresented landowners were also admitted.  To ensure that all parties have a justiciable interest, each entity and individual is required to file an affidavit no later than February 9, 2019 (Order 2).  Any objections to party status must be filed no later than February 19, 2019.

LCRA Applies for Groundwater Export Permit – Hearing Sept. 26th

LCRA seeks permit for 25,000 acre-feet/yr of groundwater from Griffith League Scout Ranch

Hearing set for September 26th, 7:00 pm, Bastrop Convention Center, 1408 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, TX 78602

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) applied with the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (District) for groundwater operating and transport permits for eight (8) wells, for a total combined maximum annual production of up to 25,000 acre-feet/year on February 21, 2018.   A public hearing on the application has been set for September 26, 2018.

Persons interested in opposing the permit must give notice to the Lost Pines GCD five (5) days BEFORE the hearing —  by close of business on September 21, 2018 — to participate in a contested case hearing on the application.  Friends of Bastrop Water and Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund will be holding a public meeting for persons interested in opposing the LCRA’s pending wells.  The meeting is September 13, 2018 at 4:30 and 7 pm at the American Legion Hall, 303 Loop 150 E, Bastrop, TX 78602.…

Celebrating the Life of Melanie Phillips

Melanie Phillips, Founding Board Member.

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of  Melanie P. Phillips, Director and Secretary of Environmental Stewardship.   Melanie’s love of the natural environment led her to advocate for preservation of rivers, bays, and trees for ecological as well as recreational purposes.   She was passionate about the symbiotic relationship we have with our natural environment, and she worked hard to educate other to come to the same understanding — that when we harm our natural environment we harm ourselves. She emphatically believed that there is a way to sustain all of life if we will work together toward that common goal.

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. 

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.  

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

ATTENTION BASTROP AND LEE COUNTY LANDOWNERS

READ ON AND TAKE ACTION

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.