Bastrop Landowners rally to protect their wells from water grab by LCRA "Mega-Permit." Michele Gangnes, of the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund spoke to over 200 Bastrop and Lee County residents in two consecutive meetings at the American Legion Hall in Bastrop, September 13th. They learned the issues and strategized how to defend their well water from LCRA and other water pirates planning big export wells in the precious Simsboro Aquifer. The event was co-sponsored by Friends of Bastrop Water.
Environmental Stewardship Executive Director Steve Box confers with concerned landowners Phil Cook and John Watson as they study new maps of groundwater drawdown throughout the Bastrop area that will be caused by LCRA.
The urgency is a September 26th public permit hearing by the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (LPGCD) to review a 25,000 acre-foot/year (AFY) application by LCRA to mine water for unspecified future use throughout its service area – clearly outside of Bastrop.
The LCRA permit public hearing is at 7:00PM at the Bastrop Convention Center, 1408 Chestnut St. Please come out and support the rights of Bastrop landowners to protect the water under their homes and ranches.
If you are a landowner near the Griffith League Ranch – with or without a well – you can file an objection to the LPGCD by September 21st.
LCRA’s goal, according to General Manager Phil Wilson is, "in addition to providing drinking water for residents, the water could be used throughout our Central Texas service area for manufacturing, irrigation and power production.”
LCRA was created by state legislation in 1934 to for “the control, storing, preservation, and distribution of the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries within the boundaries of the authority for irrigation, generation of electric energy and power, and other useful purposes.” It has always had the responsibility for managing river water.
Clearly LCRA wants to get into the lucrative groundwater development business - though its charter is to manage the surface water of the Colorado River.
LCRA already has four large wells at its Lake Bastrop power plant to supplement their needs – and, incidentally, allow LCRA to sell more of its river water elsewhere. LCRA’s lakeside groundwater claim is up to 10,000 AFY. Other than the swap plan at Lake Bastrop, this is the first time that they have crossed into the groundwater business.
LCRA’s water claim is on top of water use by Aqua Water Service Corporation, which has been providing water to about 50,000 Bastrop area residents since the 1970’s. Aqua’s present use is estimated around 9,000 AFY, though it is permitted for twice that amount.
Thirsty San Antonio got permits to pump 50,000 AFY from the same aquifer in nearby Burleson County (Vista Ridge, aka "The San Antone Hose"). Though the original developer of the ‘San Antonio Hose’ went belly up, the construction company and city are plowing ahead to have the water flowing by 2020.
An Austin based company came next.
Cleverly named ‘Recharge LP’, it leaves the impression that it might help the aquifer. Headed by former Austin Mayor Will Wynn, Recharge (formerly End Op) got into action in 2016 with a permit from the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District for 56,000 AFY. Though close lipped, they apparently want to sell water to major developers in Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties. This application was approved by the water district, but currently under court challenge.
In addition, Forestar Real Estate Group has an active permit for up to 28,500 AFY for new developments in Hays, Travis and Williamson counties.
All of this adds up to well over 110,000 AFY that scientific studies show to be totally unustainable. But with millions of dollars and billions of gallons at stake the Bastrop region has a big target on its back.
Editorial Note: We wish to thanks Al Braden, a volunteer with Austin350.org and a professional photographer for allowing us to print his photos and article. Al is one of many good friends in Austin who are looking out for water in our region. The Simsboro is a slow-to-no recharge aquifer as compared to the mighty Edwards Aquifer, a fast-recharging Karst aquifer. Watch the LIV video, "I Oppose the San Antone Hose."