City of Elgin requests hearing to oppose new wells
Excerpt from the Elgin Courier
Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2018 3:00 pm
Julianne Hodges |
In response to an application from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to drill a number of wells to tap into the Simsboro aquifer, the City of Elgin has requested a contested case hearing before the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District protesting the application. The Elgin City Council discussed the situation during the October 1 regular meeting.
LCRA applied for a permit to pump 25,000 acre-feet, or about 8 billion gallons, of water per year from the Simsboro aquifer by building eight wells on land in northeast Bastrop County. The application raised concerns from citizens and local entities, such as Aqua Water Supply Corporation and the City of Elgin, about the amount of water LCRA would be taking from the aquifer.
According to Doug Prinz, director of utilities for the City of Elgin and a member of the board of directors for the Lost Pine Groundwater Conservation District, the district hydrologist estimated the maximum production allowed by the LCRA permit would result in a 300-foot drawdown of the water level of the aquifer.
The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, which regulates the water supply for Bastrop and Lee Counties, held a public hearing on September 26, where citizens spoke out against the permit.
The City of Elgin has four wells that take water from the Simsboro Aquifer, Prinz said. The pumps for these wells are about 300 feet down, which is right around where the hydrologist found the possible drawdown would be. Prinz said Elgin’s wells are located on an area where the aquifer is not as deep, while the LCRA wells would pump water out of a deeper area.
The City of Elgin is permitted for about 6,000 acre-feet per year out of the Simsboro aquifer, and Prinz said the city uses about 30 percent of that currently for the whole city.
“Right now, we're okay, we're pumping about 30 percent of our permit so we have room to grow,” Prinz said, “but if the water isn’t there, what are we going to do?”
The next step is to set up a preliminary hearing with the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings, where all parties who requested a contested case hearing will present the evidence for why they have standing under the law to participate in the case, according to Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District general manager Jim Totten. Next, the judge from the State Office of Administrative Hearings will make a recommendation to the board about who has standing, and the board will decide which entities receive party status. Then, the State Office of Administrative Hearings will hold a hearing with these parties, the judge will make a recommendation to the board based on the evidence and the law, and the board will make a decision on what to do.
“It’s probably going to be a lengthy process,” Totten said....