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TESPA February Updates

February is coming to a close, and it has been a busy couple of months at TESPA. Our team of lawyers has been working hard on the Needmore Water contested case and we have been extremely engaged in the creation of the Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District, which will regulate groundwater production from the Trinity Aquifer. And with Electro Purification's permit application moving forward at BSEACD, it looks like we are going to continue to stay busy. Read below for all the details.

Pictured above: Groundwater fed Spring Lake at the Meadows Center


BSEACD Determines EP Permit Has Potential to Cause Unreasonable Impacts to Existing Wells

On February 20, BSEACD sent Electro Purification a preliminary finding that EP's production permit application to produce 2.5 million gallons a day from the Trinity Aquifer has the potential to cause unreasonable impacts to existing wells. You can read the determination here.

As a result of this finding, under the District's Rules, EP has several options. First, EP can choose to submit avoidance measures and a compliance monitoring plan in addition to a mitigation plan within 30 days of this finding. The the District will evaluate these measures and plans to ensure that unreasonable impacts to wells will not occur.

Or within 10 days of this preliminary finding that EP's application has the potential to cause unreasonable impacts, EP can elect to directly refer the application to the District's Board for a hearing. If EP chooses this route, the District will conduct a hearing, and affected parties will have an opportunity to protest and the public may submit comments. TESPA will update its members on the status of the application and any opportunities for public participation.

Pictured above: Save Our Wells crew during EP water grab in 2015


Needmore Water Contested Case

January and February have been extremely busy months in the Needmore Water contested case. The parties have been involved in discovery and had dispositive motions due. TESPA filed a Motion for Summary Disposition on February 9th, arguing that BSEACD abused its discretion when it issued Needmore a Temporary Permit and therefore, cannot issue Needmore a Regular Permit under HB 3405 as Needmore was not eligible to apply for a Temporary Permit. You can read TESPA's Motion here. Needmore and BSEACD have also filed responses. The SOAH Administrative Law Judge will hear oral arguments on these motions on March 5th. The hearing on the merits has been continued with a date to be determined.


New Groundwater Conservation District in Southwestern Travis County

Last session, the Legislature passed a bill creating the Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District over an area of the Trinity Aquifer in Travis County that the state has deemed is experiencing significant groundwater declines - referred to as the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area or Hill Country PGMA. To operate, the SWTCGCD must be confirmed at an election this May. The SWTCGCD is the smallest groundwater conservation district in Texas, and unfortunately, the District's enabling legislation provided the District with limited powers and funding. Fortunately, BSEACD has offered to assist the District, and TESPA intends to be involved in the management of the District to ensure protection of the Trinity Aquifer and domestic wells.

On March 7, at 6 PM, West Cave Preserve, in partnership with Our Desired Future, is holding an event to inform the community about the SWTCGCD and to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of groundwater regulation in Texas. TESPA Executive Director and Counsel, Vanessa Puig-Williams will be speaking on the panel. You can register to attend here.

Map above: Credit BSEACD

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Onion Creek and Middle Trinity Aquifer are Connected

Hydrogeologists in Hays County have recently completed additional rounds of dye tracing that have confirmed hydrogeological connections between Onion Creek and the Middle Trinity Aquifer. You can read about it here.This finding is significant because it reinforces the fact that groundwater and surface water are related--it is the same water and regulations should reflect this reality. TESPA intends to work with Hays Trinity GCD to ensure its rules recognize this connection and intends to push for legislation this upcoming session to further recognize groundwater and surface water connections in our state law.

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Please Donate to TESPA

TESPA is incurring substantial expenses related to its protest of Needmore Water, LLC's permit application at BSEACD. We have expert witnesses we need to pay as well as outside counsel. Please donate to support TESPA in its efforts to protect the Trinity Aquifer from this request to withdraw a massive amount of groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer.

Additionally, TESPA is the only organization following and poised to comment and possibly protest Electro Purification's groundwater application at BSEACD. Electro Purification is seeking a permit to withdraw 2.5 million gallons of groundwater a day from the Middle Trinity Aquifer--the largest permit application in BSEACD's jurisdiction. Please consider making a sustaining contribution to TESPA so that we can continue to stay engaged.

Pictured : Edwards Aquifer limestone and Trinity outcrop near headwaters of Guadalupe River