~~A version of this blog post will appear in the Giddings Times and News July 12 issue~~
Proposed LCRA project to be subject of community meeting
The nonprofit Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF) and the Friends of Bastrop Water group (FBW) will hold public meetings on Tuesday, July 17 at the Paige Community Center. The two groups will have a conversation with the audience about the Lower Colorado River Authority’s pending permit to export Simsboro groundwater from Bastrop County.
Bastrop residents will be given priority to the limited seating at the 4:30 and 6:30 pm meetings, with an 8:30 meeting to be added if needed. Seats may be reserved by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 512-333-0252.
The meetings will cover the specifics of the project, and its potential impacts on regional groundwater, surface water and ecosystems. “The Lost Pines groundwater district has not yet scheduled the public hearing on the permit,” said Michele Gangnes, a Lee County landowner and director of SAWDF. “We intend landowners to come away Tuesday with timely and useful information to help them protect their groundwater property rights and the aquifers we all depend on.”
Go to www.simsborowaterdefensefund.org for information about the “Siege on the Simsboro”, and https://www.facebook.com/groups/bastropwater/ to join FBW and learn more about the proposed LCRA project. LCRA plans to pump and export up to 8.15 billion gallons of Simsboro water a year from the historic Bastrop County ranch now known as “Griffith League Scout Ranch”.
The Capitol Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America sold the ranch’s water rights to LCRA in 2014 after the Boy Scouts took ownership of the ranch, following a 1993 probate contest with the heirs of ranch owner, Mary Lavinia Griffith. Mrs. Griffith, a descendant of a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico, was reportedly more comfortable that the Scouts would carry out her desire to protect the ranch from development. Some local residents say Mrs. Griffith considered protection of the ranch’s groundwater as critically important to carrying out her wishes.
LCRA wants to drill 8 Simsboro wells near the perimeter of the ranch bordering the Circle D community. Aqua Water Supply Corporation wells and proposed private wells for End Op, now known as “Recharge”, are also nearby.
The family of Circle D landowner and scientist Jeannie Jessup lost their home in the 2011 fire and have helped replant their community’s beloved Lost Pines. Jessup started the Friends of Bastrop Water as a local grass-roots movement in direct response to LCRA’s water export plan, largely out of concern for the unique Lost Pines ecosystem. The water to be pumped by LCRA is rumored to be destined for the City of Austin.
The Lost Pines district’s hydrological review of the proposed LCRA permit says maximum pumping under the LCRA permit alone would draw down the aquifer approximately 60 feet on average, based on computer modeling. When LCRA’s pumping is combined with maximum pumping by other water marketers like End Op, Aqua, Forestar and LCRA, the modeled drawdown increases to an average 318 feet of drawdown of the Simsboro Aquifer across the two-county district.
SAWDF, a central Texas 501c3 nonprofit, currently supports landowners involved in a lawsuit against the Lost Pines district, now on appeal to the Austin Third Court of Appeals. The district and End Op have teamed up to appeal State District Judge Carson Campbell’s order in favor of the landowners and overturning the district’s ruling that landowners do not have standing to protest a Simsboro permit unless they too have Simsboro wells. The district’s appeal of his decision also seeks to recover legal fees from the landowners.
Map depicting 8 proposed LCRA wells plus nearby AQUA wells, and proposed “Recharge” aka End Op wells.