At Tuesday evening's meeting, TESPA's hydrogeologist, Doug Wierman, explained the details of BSEACD's May 21st staff recommendation, which proposes that the BSEACD Board of Directors issue EP a permit with phased in volumes of production and special conditions that are designed to avoid and mitigate impacts to the aquifer and landowners' wells.
EP must now publish notice of BSEACD's recommendation and has until June 5 to do so. Once EP publishes notice, the public will have 20 days to submit comments to BSEACD or to submit a contested case request. Read about process here.
At the meeting, TESPA's Executive Director, Vanessa Puig-Williams, announced that TESPA plans to contest EP's permit and is asking landowners who will be impacted by the project to join TESPA and become a part of the contested case. Over fifty landowners have joined this effort so far.
Puig-Williams explained at the meeting that TESPA has decided to protest EP's permit because TESPA believes that BSEACD's recommendation does not protect the property rights of landowners near EP's well field whose groundwater will be drained by EP's pumping. Despite the phased in production volumes and pumping curtailment requirements, drawdown will still occur. EP will be pumping other landowner's groundwater and selling it for a profit. This cannot stand. Both the courts and the Legislature have held that landowners own their groundwater in place.
While it is true that BSEACD has recommended measures that are designed to avoid or mitigate impacts to landowners' wells, Puig-Williams emphasized that there are many landowners who do not own wells whose groundwater will still be drained and those who have wells will have to go through a burdensome process to have EP lower the pump on or re-drill their well just so that EP can pump and export water that does not belong to them.