Giddings Times & News, Thursday, July 26, 2018
State Rep. John Cyrier, Judge Fischer attend
Over 200 people attended back-to back July 17 public information meetings at Paige Community Center.
The meetings for local residents and landowners were sponsored by the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund, a 501c3 nonprofit which advocates for aquifer protection and landowner property rights in groundwater, and by the newly-formed Friends of Bastrop Water.
Both events were centered around the pending permit at the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District for the Lower Colorado River Authority to pump up to 25,000 acre-feet per year from the Simsboro Aquifer in Bastrop County.
State Representative John Cyrier, Lee County Judge Paul Fischer, Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, and Rep. Cyrier’s legislative aide and District Director Alonzo Wood of Lexington, visited with audience members.
Judge Fischer spoke extemporaneously to encourage public involvement in protecting local groundwater resources.
The LCRA project was framed by Bastrop County landowner, Jeannie Jessup, and San Antonio hydrologist, George Rice. Jessup, who holds a graduate degree in botany from Texas A&M, spoke eloquently of her community’s concerns about locating the project in the midst of the local Lost Pines trees, still recovering from the 2011 wildfire. Rice illustrated concerns with local effects of LCRA’s 8-well project with maps depicting computer-modeled future drawdowns in the Simsboro Aquifer and other aquifers from pumping under existing mega-permits.
Without even adding the new LCRA project, Rice noted those drawdowns in the Simsboro will range from 100 feet over almost a dozen counties, to 1200 feet in parts of Burleson and Lee counties.
He emphasized that although the vast Simsboro Aquifer will still be “full” at the end of 60 years, drawdowns in wells and water levels in those counties will result from the reductions in pressure in the artesian Simsboro.
After the meeting, SAWDF director and Lee County landowner Travis Brown said, “The water marketers are fond of telling the first half of that story--- ‘the Simsboro will be full of water’ --- without admitting the very negative effects on our local rural counties.”
Rounding out the speakers were Phil Cook and Steve Box, both leaders of the conservation group Environmental Stewardship, and Michele Gangnes of SAWDF.
Box introduced Rice’s presentation with a discussion of effects of Simsboro pumping on the Colorado River. The river currently gains water from the Simsboro in Bastrop County but will begin losing water back to the aquifer when mega-pumping begins.
Both audiences had a lively discussion of the need to challenge the LCRA permit and the fundraising that would be necessary.
Donors to both SAWDF (www.simsborowaterdefensefund.org) and Environmental Stewardship (www.environmental-stewardship.org) are eligible to receive favorable tax treatment. Both organizations are currently assisting the financing of the ongoing End Op permit litigation among four local landowners, the Lost Pines District and water marketer, End Op aka Recharge.
The District and End Op are appealing the favorable ruling the landowners received from Judge Carson Campbell in January 2018.Friends of Bastrop Water may be found at www.facebook.com/groups/bastropwater/.