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2013-05-23 digital edition

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2013-05-23 / Front Page

Lost Pines Approves Wells With Restrictions

By Mike Organ

The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (LPGCD/ Water Board) met in Bastrop Wednesday night with a big, controversial agenda staring them in the face. The water board tried to placate all parties with their decisions. They gave LCRA and Forestar (USA) Real Estate Group the water wells they requested, but cut the aggregate amount of water by as much as 73% in Forestar’s case, and LCRA received a 50% cut in non drought years, to be determined by a drought rating of D2.

There were in excess of 300 people at the meeting at the beautiful new Bastrop Convention Center. The majority of the crowd was there in opposition to the water board granting any of the water marketers any water, and questioned LCRA’s ability to manage water, since they have done so poorly with the Highland Lakes.

The first group of public speakers were probably the most persuasive of the night. The Bastrop Mina Elementary Green Team was a group of fourth graders that spoke to the board. Each speaker had a different reason for the applications to be denied. The comments ranged from “don’t give our water away” to “when I am your age I want to have water to drink”.

Wade Dane of the Lee County Water Supply Corporation was given five minutes to speak by Vice President Billy Sherrill, who conducted the meeting in the absence of president, Michael Talbot. Mr. Dane presented his facts as to how the proposed pumping would affect the existing water suppliers in Lee County, including Lee County Water Supply, Aqua Water Supply, City of Giddings, and City of Lexington.

The rest of the 42 registered speakers basically said the same thing. “Don’t let our water go outside the counties; we will need it here eventually. Obey your rules by doing groundwater conservation.”

Others quoted biblical facts about Judas and Solomon. Martha Arnold apologized first, and then scolded the board saying, “you are not listening to us.”

When the water board returned after a short executive session, the meat of the meeting started to come down. After the City of Smithville requested a reduction in the number of acre-feet of water they use, this item was approved quickly. The board unanimously voted to grant Mesquite Water Properties, L.P. 3,360 acre-feet of water.

Next on the agenda was LCRA. The board made a motion to allow LCRA all 10,000 acre-feet of water in any year deemed a D2 drought year. The motion also stated any non-drought year, LCRA would be allowed only 5,000 acre-feet of water. All LCRA wells would be drilled on LCRA land. The board approved this motion unanimously.

Forestar was next, and the one the majority of Lee Countians were most concerned with. They felt that the ten wells and the 45,000 acre-feet of water that Forester applied for would bankrupt Northern Lee County’s water supply quickly. Board member Keith Hansberger made the motion to allow Forestar 10 wells, with the aggregate amount of water produced to be reduced to 12,000 acre-feet. Following a second and with no discussion, the board voted 6-2 to approve the motion.

Next the board approved the Lexington Park Building as one of their approved meeting sites. This was approved unanimously.

The regularly scheduled meeting adjourned at 9:53 p.m.

Prior to this regular meeting, the board convened at 5:00 p.m. to consider a contested case hearing on the applications of Forestar and LCRA. The board went into executive session almost immediately after being called to order. The board considered the contested case filed by Aqua Water Supply and the City of Giddings, and all other cases, to confirm that they had been filed in a timely manner. This was turned down by the board.

Next was the preliminary hearing on the application of End OP, LP for 14 wells in Lee and Bastrop Counties seeking to withdraw 56,000 acre-feet from the Simsboro Aquifer, to be used for municipal purposes in Travis and Williamson Counties. The contested case hearing will be held in Bastrop by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. End Op must deposit $26,000 within 14 days to pay for the hearing. Nine other individuals or entities have asked to have “party” status so they may join Aqua to contest this application. End Op has requested a timeline for those wanting to join in contesting their application.

The Leader will keep you informed on meeting dates as they become available.

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