2013-04-11 / Front Page

Public Hearing to Discuss Well Applications Scheduled

About 100 people crowded into the community room at the Giddings Public Library last Monday night. The meeting, which was organized by a group who call themselves Independent Texans from Bastrop, is expected to be a precursor of an upcoming meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 17, at Giddings City Hall. That meeting will be a public hearing of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, who will be considering permit applications for operating and transfer permits for 14 wells located in Bastrop and Lee counties by End Op, LP, a water marketer, and for operating and transfer permits for two wells in Lee County by Manville Water Supply Co.

Monday night’s meeting was organized to encourage landowners to use caution when signing contracts that allow seismic surveys to be done on their property and/or when signing water rights to large water marketers who intend to pump water from the aquifer beneath one’s land and sell it to large municipalities, like Williamson, Travis and Hays counties.

Joe Cooper, former General Manager of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, who is currently acting as a consultant for the district, issued a memorandum to the LPGCD Board of Directors on March 20, 2013, recommending the approval of End Op’s application. His memorandum cites a number of reasons for the recommendation, but in particular because the permits would have specific conditions attached that would ensure End Op’s drilling follow state and district rules when it comes to future production.

On March 8, 2013, HB 3250 was introduced into the Texas House. It states it is a “Bill to be entitled An Act, relating to protecting landowners against aquifer depletion,” the main reason members of Independent Texans are urging caution to landowners about signing away their water rights.

HB 3250 was referred to the National Resource Committee on March 19, and as of press time, had not yet been brought up for discussion. If it gets out of committee and is brought up for a vote, without changes, it will address the annual production capability of groundwater per acre of land that is owned and overlies an aquifer. The act will prohibit over pumping of the aquifer and will require groundwater conservation districts to ensure that rule.

Related to all the discussion of well permitting is the recent passing by the Texas Legislature of HB 4, which creates the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, that is, funding for water infrastructure needed for water projects across the state under the State Water Plan.

Representative Tim Kleinschmidt told the Leader that the type of infrastructure HB 4 addresses is unlimited. “It may be for wells, for reservoirs, for conservation, for pipelines, for anything related to ensure a water supply for future generations of Texans,” he explained. “Providing for a sustainable water supply is a critical mission for the future of Texas.”

Perhaps next Wednesday’s public hearing will help to shed more light on the subject of “sustainable water supply.”

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