World Water Day has come and gone but the message remains the same.
“Groundwater is invisible, but its impact is visible everywhere. Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives. Almost all of the liquid freshwater in the world is groundwater. As climate change gets worse, groundwater will become more and more critical. We need to work together to sustainably manage this precious resource. Groundwater may be out of sight, but it must not be out of mind.”
We urge you to follow the link above to read more and take the One Minute Challenge!
LPGCD Public Hearings --- more detail later in this update.
The LPGCD Board will hold back-to-back, in person only Public Hearings at the Bastrop Convention Center, 1408 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, Texas 78602 on April, 4, 2022:
2PM –LCRA’s Motion for Rehearing (expected to be limited to two hours/no public comment on LCRA);
6PM –City of Bastrop application for operating permits for 3 new wells. LPGCD will conduct a formal public hearing on the City of Bastrop's application to drill three new wells in the Simsboro aquifer at the XS Ranch outside of the city.
The public may offer comment on the City of Bastrop permit application or other non-agenda items at the 6 p.m hearing. See our later LPGCD update below on other matters we applaud the District for undertaking.
Register NOW for ONLINE Austin Water Workshop for its planned ASR Project –6-7:30 p.m., March 29.
Austin Water is working on an Aquifer Storage and Recovery [ASR] project [see more info on ASR below] to make the water supply for the City of Austin more resilient to future droughts. Join Austin Water’s workshop to hear answers to questions about the ASR project and to listen to concerns from residents in Travis, Bastrop, and Lee counties where the project may be located.
Also, the Texas Water Development Board website covers the “young” history of ASR in Texas; see especially the Facts and FAQs page with a one page explanation also available.
The March 29 workshop at Austin Water is a repeat of the first workshop on March 24, during which SAWDF board member, Andy Wier, took these notes:
• Austin Water wants to store filtered stormwater in an aquifer and withdraw the water to meet peak demands during periods of drought. The plan is to withdraw only water that has been stored, not pre-existing groundwater.
• Austin Water is looking at locating the ASR Project in the Trinity Aquifer in Travis and western Bastrop counties or in the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Bastrop and Lee counties. • Austin Water is currently researching a location for a pilot project and hopes to decide by 2024. The pilot project will run from 2024-2027. If successful, work on the full-scale project will begin in 2028. • The goal is to store 60,000 acre-feet of filtered stormwater by the year 2040. The long-term goal is to store 90,000 acre-feet of filtered stormwater by the year 2115.During the workshop, Austin Water not only answered questions about the project, but spent most of the time surveying participants about their concerns. Please plan to attend and ask your questions --- and do please include in any comments you make or questions you ask, a request that Austin Water keep affected residents of these counties informed, in a transparent, accountable public outreach effort. Austin Water is getting off on the right foot by sponsoring these workshops, so we need to show appreciation for that communication and urge them to keep up the good work.Frankly, ASR projects are new enough that we may all be scratching our heads for quite some time about what it would mean to our aquifers, our existing wells and our communities. (Please note that ASR is different than an “aquifer recharge” project [AR] --- ASR [Texas Water Code §27.151] intends for the water to be injected into the aquifer and then withdrawn later, usually in times of greater demand or drought. Aquifer recharge [AR], sometimes called managed aquifer recharge [MAR], is the intentional recharge of an aquifer by means of injection well or other means of infiltration [Texas Water Code §27.201].)
MORE information on LCRA and City of Bastrop proposed permits, and hearings April 4:
SAWDF Update and Document Availability for LCRA “Rehearing” on Groundwater Permit.
In October 2021, the LPGCD board voted to grant the LCRA Operating permits for eight wells producing a combined total of 8,000 acre-feet/year with Special Conditions and a Transport Permit for up to 25,000 acre-feet/year.
In February, the LCRA filed a revised Motion for Rehearing asking the LPGCD Board to re-consider the Operating and Transport permits. The LPGCD Board agreed to this request at the February 2022 meeting.
Responses from contestants to the LCRA motion were filed on March 10, 2022, and LCRA has filed its rebuttal to their arguments. The attorney for Brown Landowners, Don Grissom submitted our response, assisted by landowner Andy Wier.
You can read all the documents, i.e., Motion by the LCRA, the response from Brown Landowners and other contestants, and LCRA rebuttal, at the following Dropbox link:
The fight isn’t over, just yet, and we appreciate your continued support of SAWDF and especially the Brown Landowners, who stood up for all of us, and whom SAWDF has supported through your generous and continuing donations. It is not clear what LCRA's next move will be, pending the outcome of this re-hearing. Please go here to donate to SAWDF.
Environmental Stewardship’s description of the City of Bastrop hearing: Thanks to our friends at ES for this email update:A hearing on the City of Bastrop's application for three (3) wells on XS Ranch has been scheduled. See Notice.
The City proposes to complete the proposed new wells in the Simsboro Aquifer and to withdraw 1,333 acre-feet of water per year from each well, with a total production of 3,999 acre-feet of water per year combined from the three wells, to be used for municipal purposes in the City of Bastrop Service Area in Bastrop County. Each well is proposed to pump at an instantaneous rate of 1,500 gallons per minute.
The City has requested to aggregate annual and instantaneous withdrawals from the three proposed new wells with existing District Well 58-54-8-0019 (Well J) (also at XS Ranch), which is authorized to produce 2,000 acre-feet per year. The well field, with four wells, would be authorized for an aggregate production of 6,000 acre-feet of water per year. The City further requested a variance to the District’s well spacing requirements under District Rule 8.2.B. When combined with the Bryan Park Simsboro Well, the City will have a capacity to produce 7,600 acre-feet per year [from the Simsboro aquifer].SAWDF note: The City says it intends to substitute the new wellfield for its existing wells in the Colorado River Alluvium, which wells will then be abandoned.
The Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District [POSGCD] held a public hearing and Board meeting on March 8. The public hearing was for proposed changes to District Rules regarding penalties for non-compliance of a permit holder, monitoring wells, when desired future conditions have been exceeded, and a definition of unreasonable impacts.
The POSGCD board invited Dr. Robert Mace to discuss the POSGCD’s approach to desired future conditions. Dr. Mace is the executive director at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. In November 2021, Dr. Mace published a must-read report titled, "Five Gallons in a Ten Gallon Hat."
The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District [LPGCD] held a board meeting on March 16 at the Giddings Public Library. Most of the evening was spent in Executive Session discussing how best to handle a federal lawsuit filed by Gatehouse Water, LP.
Gatehouse is suing the district and the individual board members who voted to reduce the Gatehouse (formerly Forestar) operating permits to "zero" allowed production last spring.
The other big takeaway from the meeting was the scope of work that various board committees are undertaking. The Financial Committee is working on revisions to the Well Mitigation Program. The Infrastructure Committee is reviewing building plans and contracts. The Management Committee is reviewing the LPGCD Management Plan; how to establish a Special Management Zone for the Carrizo aquifer in northeast Lee County; recommendations for county development offices regarding impacts on the aquifer; and rules for a proposed Aquifer Storage & Recovery [ASR] plan by the City of Austin. The Public Information Committee is looking at ways to improve the LPGCD website.
The breadth of board activity is exciting! We encourage you to attend board meetings and positively engage board members (among whom you will see a number of new faces). They appear to have a collective new energy and best of all, seem to be working hard on protecting the aquifer and private property rights.
TAMU Researching Carrizo-Wilcox Recharge
Hugh Brown, someone at Texas A&M [TAMU] is listening! The TAMU Natural Resources Institute is researching how vegetation influences recharge to the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. You can find out more at the AgriLife website. Lee County landowner Hugh, who is the “namesake” of the famed Brown Landowners in the LCRA case, has raised this issue, several times, in public comment at LPGCD Board meetings and suggested that good land management can increase aquifer recharge.
TAMU Surveys for Landowners and Water Users
The Texas Land Trends program at TAMU recently released two surveys to get to know the everyday needs and challenges you may be facing as a landowner or state resident, so that the TAMU program may more effectively work with partners, legislators, and researchers to create solutions for you. The surveys are anonymous and take about 20-30 minutes to complete. More details about each can be found by clicking the links below.
Thank you for your feedback and contribution to a better future for Texans!