I worked hard to convince my neighbors to vote for a groundwater district over fifteen years ago ~ and I've had their back ever since. When will they decide to have mine?"
~~ Lee County Landowner, February 21, 2018
The following article was published in the March 1 edition of the Giddings Times and News.
Groundwater district votes once again on End Op Issue - Directors hear report on LCRA water project
The Board of Directors of Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District faced a lengthy agenda at its February 21 monthly meeting in Giddings.
General Manager Jim Totten reported the District has received a groundwater permit application from the Lower Colorado River Authority for a three-phase project. LCRA plans to pump up to 24,000 acre-feet per year from the Simsboro aquifer under the historic Griffith League Ranch, now owned by the Boy Scouts of America.The Bastrop County ranch is the last remaining intact "League Ranch" given by Sam Houston to those who contributed to the Texan cause in the war for Texas independence.
Totten expects the draft LCRA permit might be ready for Board action in May. He did not make it clear whether the permit will cover all three phases or only the 8,000 AFY first phase.
The Board took up an agenda item concerning possible ratification of the Board’s 4 to 2 record vote on February 1 to appeal a decision by State District Judge Carson Campbell. Both the District and End Op have filed appeals to overturn his decision that the District improperly barred four landowners from protesting End Op’s permit. The lawsuit raises fundamental questions about rights of landowners to protect their groundwater.
After meeting privately with the Board, District general counsel Natasha Martin publicly recommended that the Board consider another vote to “approve” the February 1 vote. She expressed concern the public was confused by the fact the Board voted on a motion to appeal as well as a motion not to appeal at the earlier meeting. Martin acknowledged the outcome of a second vote would have no effect on the earlier vote.
Seven directors passed a motion to approve the appeal on a voice vote, with no audible dissents. Some audience members later questioned whether all seven directors had voted. Bastrop Director Fleming recused himself, President Talbot votes only to break a tie, and Lee Director Simmang was absent.
Bastrop resident Linda Curtis videotaped the vote. “How many did or did not vote on an unofficial ‘do over’ doesn’t really matter,” Curtis said after the meeting. “The public isn’t confused about the fact the District is continuing to fight landowners and their property rights on the strength of four votes.”
The Board also moved forward with plans to construct a new District office and decided to hold a “District Workshop Session” on April 28. The public is invited to the workshop to hear presentations to the Board about the District’s rules, the Texas Water Code and the permitting process; computer modeling and its use in assisting groundwater policy-making; and water-related legislative affairs.
**Editor's note: Check back soon for more information on LCRA's proposed project.