Background

In 2011, Greg La Mantia, a wealthy beer distributer, purchased Needmore Ranch from John O'Quinn, a Houston trial lawyer who infuriated locals when, after purchasing the ranch, he closed off public access to Fern Bank Springs, a favorite local swimming hole.

In 2013, locals would once again be outraged at the ranch's owner--this time Greg La Manita--when he successfully lobbied State Representative Jason Isaac and Senator Donna Campbell to pass legislation, despite widespread local opposition, creating a municipal utility district (MUD) on the ranch. For more details, read this article published in the Texas Observer.

To appease the community's concerns that development of the ranch would deplete groundwater in the Trinity Aquifer, Representative Isaac and Senator Campbell included a provision in the Needmore Ranch MUD enabling legislation prohibiting Needmore from pumping Trinity groundwater for use in a residential subdivision on the ranch. Read more here.

Fast forward another two years. In early 2015, the Wimberley and Driftwood community learned that Electro Purification (EP), a private groundwater developer, planned to pump almost 5 million gallons of groundwater a day from an unregulated portion of the Trinity Aquifer. Because the area was not regulated by a groundwater conservation district, there were no laws in place to protect the property rights of nearby landowners whose wells were threatened by the massive pumping project. The Rule of Capture, an archaic law adopted by the Texas Supreme Court in 1904, prohibited neighboring landowners from suing to protect their groundwater from being drained. Click here for more information.

TESPA formed and filed a lawsuit against EP and the landowners who leased their groundwater rights to EP arguing that the court should overturn the rule of capture.

Locals galvanized and urged Representative Isaac and Senator Campbell to pass legation during the 84th session (House Bill 3405) extending the jurisdiction of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) over the unregulated portion of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County. The bill had a controversial life during the 84th session, dying on the floor of the house as a result of a point of order, only to be resurrected at the last minute by an exceedingly rare decision by the House Parliamentarian to reverse the point of order. Read here for more details.

Prior to House Bill 3405 becoming law, the eastern half of Needmore Ranch was in the unregulated portion of the Trinity Aquifer. The western half of Needmore Ranch, however, has always been within the jurisdiction of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD). After passage of House Bill 3405, BSEACD and HTGCD now bisect Needmore Ranch, with the eastern half within BSEACD's territory and the western half within HTGCD. For reference, see the map, below.

A little known fact is that when House Bill 3405 passed, a bill authored by Senator Campbell (Senate Bill 2075) also passed. Senate Bill 2075 repealed the language in the Needmore MUD enabling legislation prohibiting Needmore from pumping groundwater from the Trinity Aquifer for a residential subdivision.