Lost Pines Board appears to have capitulated to
End Op in draft settlement agreement
accepted by the Board. 
Show up at Wednesday's Board Meeting
7:00 pm, Bastrop City Hall
1311 Chestnut Street.

The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District's Board of Directors considered framework terms for a settlement agreement and voted 7 to 1 to accept the terms last Wednesday night.  In accepting the terms the Board capitulated to End Op and instructed its lawyer to negotiate a contract that will be binding upon acceptance by the Board.  

The "settlement framework"  describes a five year process in which End Op is permitted to pump 25,000 ac-ft/yr for two years, 36,000 ac-ft/yr for three years and then the full 46,000 ac-ft of water per year.   The settlement requires actual drawdown from pumping to be less than or equal to computer-modeled drawdowns based on simulated pumping. Monitoring of this type provides a ruse for progressing through the initial levels of pumping to the final full permit amount.  

The monitoring proposed in the settlement does not provide an accurate means of measuring the impact of the permitted pumping, along with other permitted pumping,  on the desired future conditions.  The "mutually agreeable measurements" purport to, over a mere five year period of a 50 year cycle, determine if the End Op pumping will prevent the District from achieving its desired future conditions in 2070. 

Lacking a monitoring program that has teeth, the agreement provides no meaningful means of limiting the permit, but rather is a carte blanche granting of the full permit.

Environmental Stewardship wants to acknowledge Keith Hansberger for his continued support of the interests and concerns of the people of Bastrop and Lee counties by voting against the framework settlement.  We are extremely disappointed that the Board has betrayed the citizens of Bastrop and Lee counties over the last year as it has rejected qualified replacement directors and rejected landowner participation in the contested case hearing process.  Now it has capitulated to the maneuvering of water marketers by handing End Op its full requested amount of groundwater, despite the fact that this level of pumping will, by all current measures, likely bust the desired future conditions.   We anticipate that other water marketers that have taken hair-cut permits will be back looking for the same framework and capitulation.  

Show up at Wednesday's Board Meeting
and express your concerns directly.
Click here for agenda  
In June the board heard oral arguments but did not take action on the application other than to table the application until a future date. The Board took that action on September 9, 2015.
The initial contested case hearing on the End Op application for 56,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year from the Simsboro Aquifer was held on February 11, 2014 at the Bastrop Convention and Exhibit Center.  The application was contested by AQUA Water Supply Corporation.   The hearing was held before a State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) administrative law judge.   The judge rendered a Proposal for Decision on April 10, 2014.  
AQUA had announced a partial settlement with End Op that established a mitigation fund for AQUA and limited the arguments and cross-examination by each of these parties at the hearing. The AQUA mitigation fund is available to AQUA without showing cause.  The settlement also sets up a mitigation fund for "other landowners," however, these landowners must demonstrate harm by End Op to access the funds.    
Lost Pines GCD Board considered the matter on August 13, 2014.  The Board deferred the matter until September 10, 2014 when the Board remanded the case back to the ALJ to develop additional evidence on beneficial use.  The ALJ held a hearing on remand on Friday November 7, 2014 and issued a Proposal for Decision Upon Remand on February 25, 2015.    The May 27, 2015 meeting of the Board was for the purpose of hearing arguments and deliberating on the latest proposal.     
More information on the hearing is available at the Environmental Stewardship
End Op webpage.
Steve Box
Executive Director
Environmental Stewardship
P.O. Box 1423
Bastrop, TX 78602   

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Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Hearings
DrawdownWATER BANKRUPTCY:  A Visual Perspective
What does "draw-down" and "water bankruptcy" resulting from groundwater pumping look like on a groundwater map?  As you may know, the Desired Future Conditions are established in terms of the draw-down, in feet, of aquifers in Bastrop and Lee counties and throughout the District. 

Recently, Environmental Stewardship obtained visual images based on the Groundwater Availability Model (GAM) used by the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District to evaluate the impact of proposed pumping from current permit applications on the Simsboro Aquifer.  Draw-down, measured in feet, is indicated on the contour lines of the maps below.  Click on Maps below to Enlarge

NOTICE:  Please keep in mind that the images below (except for Image 1) are for the PROPOSED permits ONLY (124,226 acre-feet/year) and DO NOT include EXISTING permits (45,365 acre-feet/year). 

Image 1.  PERMIT THIS - The draw-down, in feet, expected when the Adopted Desired Future Conditions (DFC) are met in Bastrop and Lee counties. The dark area in Burleson County is from Post Oak Savannah GCD pumping.  The Lost Pines GCD Board of Directors used the legal constraints of the adopted DFC to limit the Forestar permit.  Click on Map to Enlarge

Image 2.  NOT WATER BANKRUPTCY - The draw-down map above, expressed in feet, demonstrates what is expected if ALL current applications are approved and pumped to the maximum requested. The Forestar permit has been reduced from 45,000 to 12,000 acre-feet per year.  However,  Forestar is expected to appeal to District Court in an attempt to overturn this Board decision.  Notice the red area in Lee county where draw-down is 1000 ft, and orange area in Bastrop County where draw-down is 750 ft.  Click on Map to Enlarge

 Image 3.  WATER BANKRUPTCY - The majority of draw-down, in feet, in Lee County is from the proposed Forestar well field.  Fortunately, the Forestar permit has been reduced from 45,000 to 12,000 acre-feet per year.  However,  Forestar is expected to appeal to District Court in an attempt to overturn this Board decision. Click on Map to Enlarge

Image 4.  WATER BANKRUPTCY - The majority of draw-down, in feet, in Bastrop County is from the proposed End Op well field, which is directly below Houston Toad habitat.  The End OP application has been contested by Aqua Water Supply Corporation and a hearing on the merits is being scheduled.  Click on Map to Enlarge

If permitted at all, individual permits should first be reduced to levels actually supported by the application and then all permits reduced overall as necessary to an aggregate level that, including existing permits, protects the Adopted Desired Future Conditions.  In summary, if permitted at all, Forestar and End Op qualify for less than 5% of the water they are seeking.  In addition, the district needs to factor in the impact of existing permits before issuing any new permits. This has not been done. (See Image 1). 

Image 5. Permit This!  This image depicts Forestar pumping reduced to 25% of requested pumping volume but DOES NOT include existing permits. The Board reduced Forestar's permit to 26% of the requested amount.  Click on Map to Enlarge

Image 6.  Permit This! This image depicts End Op pumping reduced to 25% of requested pumping volume but DOES NOT include existing permits.  Click on Map to Enlarge

Lost Pines Groundwater Statistics
Region K
Below are some statistics about current applications, existing permits and facts from the Lost Pines Management Plan. 

Current Simsboro Aquifer Applications Pending:

-  45,000 acre-feet/yr          Forestar Group      Approved at 12,000 ac-ft/yr
-  10,000 acre-feet/yr          LCRA                    Approved at 5,000 ac-ft/yr
-  56,000 acre-feet/yr          End Op                 Contested
-    3,226 acre-feet/yr          Manville WSC        Approved
-    3,360 acre-feet/yr          Heart of Texas      Withdrawn
-    1,613 acre-feet/yr          City of Bastrop      Approved

Currently Permits in the Simsboro Aquifer 
-  23,627 acre-feet/yr            Aqua WSC
-    6,653 acre-feet/yr            Manville WSC 
-  11,023 acre-feet/yr            Lee Co. WSC 
-       100 acre-feet/yr            Lee Co. FWSD 
-         67 acre-feet/yr            Hunters Crossing 
-    3,850 acre-feet/yr            Alcoa (currently pumping 6201 acre-feet/yr)
45,365 acre-feet/yr        TOTAL PERMITS FOR SIMSBORO WELLS

  4.4 times the Available Water (2060 MAG) for the Simsboro Aquifer
  5.6 times the Available Water (2010 MAG) for the Simsboro Aquifer



A FEW FACTS From the Lost Pines Management Plan

-  Total Available Groundwater (MAG) in the District by 2060 is 58,888 acre-feet/yr.

-  Bastrop County projected water demand by 2060 is 65,266 acre-feet/yr.

-  Lee County projected water demand by 2060 is 6,603 acre-feet/yr.   

-  Current discharge to surface waters from all aquifers is 78,612 acre-feet/yr.  

-  Net recharge to all aquifers (recharge - discharge) is 7,249 acre-feet/yr.   

-  Current pumping for all aquifers in the District is 47,811 acre-feet/yr (website)

-  Current permits for all aquifers 73,000 acre-feet/yr (Austin-American Statesman) 

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