Archive for April, 2015
The good news is that Senate Bill 1907, the water grid bill (aka "Gridzilla) was taken off today's Senate calendar and tomorrow's, as well. It is likely being amended, but we don't know if that's good or bad.
What we DO know is that we have at least 24 more hours for phone calls to State Senators AND you can now start on your State Representatives, too.
Find your Senator and State Rep here.
It's a very simple super quick phone call! Just tell your State Senator's office that you oppose Senate Bill 1907. Then tell your State Rep's office you oppose House Bill 3298.
There's lots of background on "Gridzilla" on our home page. Send this out to folks and ask them to call in too.
If you can donate or become a dues paying member, please do here!
Gridzilla needs to find another life, like scaring off those water marketers and an entire lobby pushing to move water to attract real estate development in areas without enough water on their own.
Have you signed our Conserve First, Convey petition/letter yet? Please do and pass this all on from this link right here.
You might want to attend the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District meeting on Wednesday (tomorrow, 6 pm, Bastrop City Hall) if you live in Bastrop or Lee County.
Click here for the agenda.
Here’s what League Board Member, Michele Gangnes, says about this meeting:
Wednesday’s agenda has two subjects of interest, one involving the City of Bastrop and the other involving Forestar Real Estate Group.
The Board will go into executive session with its lawyers to get advice on Forestar's pending lawsuit. But they may also, according to the agenda, take official action on the outcome of that executive session. So…“Board watchers” are intrigued whether that could signal a potential settlement of the Forestar lawsuit that would require a formal vote of the Board.
The District will also hold a public hearing on whether to give the City of Bastrop a permit to pump 2,000 acre-feet/year (about 650 million gallons per year) for municipal uses. Its well would be located on private property (the “XS Ranch” development) in Bastrop County.
Due to some technicalities in how the City of Bastrop permit application was handled, the District has decided to hold what amounts to a second public hearing on the permit. This means the general public may sign up to speak for three minutes for or against the permit for the City of Bastrop.
About the only thing we know about the Bastrop permit is that a landowner (McCall Ranch) next to XS Ranch has protested the permit because the pumping might damage its water supply. The City and McCall Ranch reached a tentative settlement of their differences but the Bastrop City Council, led by Joe Beal who at the time worked for End Op, rejected the settlement for undisclosed reasons.
Both the McCall Ranch and Forestar Real Estate Group are expected to officially protest the Bastrop permit at the meeting. The District is not expected to take action on the permit itself.
Speaking of Forestar Real Estate Group, they are protesting the City of Bastrop permit because they protest all permits Lost Pines might issue. They did not get as big a permit as they wanted from Lost Pines, so they believe Lost Pines should not be able to issue any more permits at all if Forestar can’t get its full 45,000 acre-feet/year permit. They have sued Lost Pines to get their permit.
Please donate or become a member to support our efforts!
Thank you, if you made your call today to your State Senator to vote NO on the water grid bill -- SB 1907 tomorrow. It's not too late to do so tonight or tomorrow before 11 am. Find their number here.
In our press release today, Ken Kramer called the grid "gridzilla". Many of the legislators, because of your calls, are also starting to get a bad taste in their mouths about gridzilla.
Tomorrow, you can watch the Senate deliberations online starting at 11 am from here: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/bin/live.php
We will see what shakes out tomorrow. Then start reaching State Representatives to ask them to vote NO on the House Bill, HB 3298, the companion to SB 1907.
The only other important thing we must ask you is for your financial help. This is how this all volunteer outfit does what we do.
Become a dues paying member or donate!
Remember back in 2010 some of us warned you about the "Trans-Texas Water Highway"? Make one phone call to defeat Senate Bill 1907 -- before Tuesday -- when it is expected to reach the full Senate for a vote.
SB 1907 is a $2 million study for the development of a market and conveyance network for water in the Texas. The California water crisis has already shown water conveyance before water conservation is a disastrous policy.
Here's where you can find your Senator.
You can also just call the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630 and ask for your State Senator.
Tell your Senator's office that you oppose SB 1907 (you can tell them why, but that is not necessary) and ask your Senator to vote no on the bill. Calls are best during the day, but if you cannot do so, call and leave a message.
Use this fact sheet for more information or visit the News section of our website.
Our future generations depend on what we do today to protect our most precious resource.
Pay it forward, y'all.
The Texas Water Grid Bill, HB 3298 needs to be stopped. Do you really want to see masses of water moved from East Texas to San Antonio, DFW or Austin, to fuel unbridled and unaffordable in-migration population growth or bottling plants that ship our water out across the US for profit? Then ignore this message.
Rep. Lyle Larson's Water Grid Bill -- HB 3298 (and it's companion in the Senate, SB 1907) is still in the House Calendars Committee. Remember, Calendars decides when the bill is released to the House floor for a full vote. If passed, it then goes to the Senate.
We still need your help to stop HB 3298.
Read this Fact Sheet on HB 3298. Note the groups working together to stop it. Then call the Calendars Committee members. Simply tell them you oppose HB 3298 and want to see Texas focus on maximizing water conservation first -- and pursuing a longterm solution to our water problems -- desalination.
Click here for the House Calendars Committee
Note: On the Calendars Committee pages we set up for you, if you click on each member's city, it will open into a map their district. We have provided this for you to see if you know folks who live in those districts. If so, please call them and ask them to call their representative. Hearing from their own constituents is ten times as valuable as hearing from someone outside their district.
We also have lists of folks you can call in those districts. Be on Saturday's 9 am conference call if you want to volunteer or just call us. Reply for conference call instructions if you don't have them already.
You might read this excellent op-ed on HB 3298 by Ken Kramer, Sierra Club's well-respected water expert.
Let's keep the special interest hogs out of our water troughs, please dear Texans.
Urgent! Please make these calls today! Three bills we oppose have been passed out of House committees and sent to the Calendars Committee.
Calendars, composed of 15 House members, decides which bills get passed on to the floor for a full vote of the House.
It is urgently important the you reach the Calendars Committee members now and ask them not to support these bills.
Click here for the Calendars Committee.
- Senate Bill 1907/HB 3298: would direct the Texas Water Development Board to conduct a study on how to develop a statewide water market and conveyance network – essentially, a massive grid to allow water to be shipped all around the state easily. Read this from the Farm And Ranch Freedom Alliance about water (and SB1907/HB 3298).
- House Bill 2595: would give municipalities the power to deny citizens the right to petition by simply claiming that the petition denies any person's use of their property for economic gain. Example: Your city council has decided to spend $100 million of city (taxpayer) funds on a sports stadium. The Council can reject a petition for a public vote to reverse this decision (referendum) by claiming that the owners of stadium property are being denied the right to use the property for economic gain.
- House Bill 464: This bill seeks to impose unfair, burdensome and monopolistic filing fees on minor parties like the Libertarians and Greens, despite two rulings by U.S. Supreme Court this sort of filing fee is unconstitutional. Read this from the Libertarian Party of Texas.
Now, make your calls, please -- and right away --
ask your friends and family in Texas to do the same!
If you can get to Austin on Tuesday, please contact Calvin Tillman, who will be working the halls for eminent domain reform in this session and visiting Calendar's offices. Email Calvin here.
Of all the things I've seen in legislative sessions, this has to be one of the cake-takers. House Bill 2595 attempts to deny the rights of citizens to petition their local government, IF the petition has the effect of restricting any person's use of "private property" for "economic gain". Who gets to determine what is a prohibited "restriction" on this private property right? In future petitions, it will be the very body you are petitioning -- your city council!
We need your help to kill this bill. Please join our conference call tomorrow at 9 am. We'll also discuss passing an important water bill -- HB 3163 -- up for hearing this coming Wednesday.
For conference call etails, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 512-213-4511.
We thank these Texas advocates for farmers, landowners, environment and wildlife who spoke last night in opposition to a study on the "Texas water grid" bill (HB3298/SB1907). Watch and share, and sign on to our "Conserve Now, Convey Later" letter NOW!
Will you be in Austin tomorrow -- Wednesday, April 15th? Please come to the Capitol to sign in support of an important local foods bill HB 1846 and these water bills, HB 3116 and HB 4112 (this is the substitute). You can reach us 512-657-2089 (text or call) if you need instructions or want to join us at the hearing of the Natural Resources Committee Room E2.010 at 2 pm or upon adjournment of the House.
Join us on Saturday's 9 am conference call. With the end of the session on June 1st, things are heating up. Our efforts will be stepping up, so stay tuned y'all. Reply or call us for the conference call details.
Hays County Citizens' Suit against a water grab is just the beginning. The following article was printed in the Giddings Times newspaper (Lee County) on April 8, 2015.
Last month the Giddings Times reported on a plan by Houston water marketer Electro Purification to sink deep water wells in an unregulated part of the Trinity Aquifer in Hays County. Now a citizens group, the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (“TESPA”) has filed a lawsuit to prevent the EP project.
Hays County’s Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) also has introduced legislation in Austin to address the EP situation. His plea to stop this “water grab” by extending local groundwater district jurisdiction over the project, received a lukewarm response two weeks ago in the House Natural Resources Committee. The Committee left his legislation pending, with an uncertain future.
Some legislative observers believe the Committee’s reluctance to say no to any water marketer has its roots in a movement among some influential lawmakers to adopt the so-called “California Model” in Texas. California declared a critical water emergency last week, due to extended drought and mismanagement of water for decades. Sixty percent of its population has been drawn to semi-arid southern California, leaving the state dependent on moving mass quantities of water over long distances. Commentators have lamented the state’s attempts to manage Mother Nature, rather than human behavior.
Concern is growing in rural Texas that lawmakers are poised to repeat this practice, by moving our groundwater through a grid of long, expensive pipelines, to pre-ordained growth corridors with burgeoning populations and not enough water. Urban ratepayers wonder if they will be able to afford this expensive water. Those same observers worry that this plan to “move water” led by Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), one of the leading proponents of the Vista Ridge 142-mile water supply/pipeline project in Burleson-Milam counties, will ignore the needs of rural counties and threaten the ability of our aquifers to provide water in perpetuity.
Local citizens’ advocacy groups and many private citizens have long supported our local Lost Pines groundwater district’s efforts to carefully manage the ancient stored water in the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer. The Simsboro is clearly the primary target to supply the IH-35 corridor with water. What some call the “real” Hays County water grab calls for Forestar Real Estate Group to pipe almost as much Lee County water to Hays County as the Vista Ridge project will pipe to San Antonio.
To their credit, many of the hundreds of Hays County citizens who have turned out to publicly challenge Electro Purification also have spoken out against Hays County’s contract with Forestar for 16 billion gallons per year of Simsboro water. However, one of the Hays County Commissioners who voted for the Forestar contract appeared at the Legislature to demand protection of his own county’s aquifer but could not restrain himself from congratulating Rep. Larson on the brilliance of the Vista Ridge/San Antonio contract for Simsboro water.
Forestar is challenging Lost Pines’ decision to deny all but about 4 billion gallons per year of Forestar’s requested 16 billion gallons. It also claims Lost Pines must deny all other applications for municipal or commercial pumping if any part of Forestar’s permit is denied. Notably, Forestar has never challenged fellow water marketer End Op/Recharge’s application to export an additional 16-plus billion gallons to the IH-35 corridor from Bastrop and Lee counties. Lawyers for Forestar and End Op have now surfaced as the legal team for Electro Purification and the Hays countians who sold their water to EP.
Most recently, Forestar has made good on its promise to challenge permits by contesting the City of Bastrop’s application to pump only 650 million gallons per year for its local growth needs. Lost Pines will take up that challenge and one other protest of Bastrop’s permit at a specially called meeting on April 29 at Bastrop City Hall.
The TESPA group’s lawsuit is being closely watched in our two counties. TESPA seeks to vindicate a groundwater conservation district’s legislative and constitutional mandate to ensure groundwater is used wisely and in a sustainable manner. Lost Pines GCD aspires to fulfill that same duty. TESPA also plans to ask the Texas Supreme Court to overturn the so-called “Rule of Capture” (also called the “biggest straw wins” rule), if the lower court does not allow the local groundwater district to regulate EP.
The lawsuit also demands that EP stop all work on its well field until EP obtains permits from a groundwater conservation district. Ironically, one of the objections of lawmakers to Rep. Isaac’s bill is the fact the Legislature does not like to pass laws on matters that are the subject of pending litigation.
As the Legislature approaches the halfway mark for the 2015 session, local groups advocating for preservation and protection of our aquifers in perpetuity, and for local control by groundwater conservation districts, have been active in monitoring and testifying on pending legislation. Rep. John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), the newly elected representative for Lee and Bastrop counties, also has three bills pending in the House Natural Resources Committee concerning groundwater district powers and protections.
More information on the legislative session and groundwater issues may be found at www.stopwatergrab.org and www.environstewardship.org.