Your financial support is needed
-- to stop water marketers --
-- to protect our groundwater --   
You likely are as concerned and alarmed as we are about the future of our area's groundwater. We now have an opportunity to stop water marketers' efforts to pump vast quantities of groundwater to San Antonio and other cities along the I-35 corridor.

A new organization to help lead this fight has just been formed: the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF). Its board members and volunteers include leaders of the League of Independent Voters, Environmental Stewardship, Sierra Club and Neighbors for Neighbors.

SAWDF's mission is to educate local citizens about the need to protect the aquifers so vital to the well-being of our communities. That mission also includes assisting area landowners in defending their legal rights to protect their groundwater. To do this, SAWDF is raising money to fund community outreach and to support several upcoming legal battles - battles we believe represent our best chances to protect groundwater resources.

Bastrop County Courthouse.
Among the first of these battles is a Bastrop County district court hearing expected this fall.  At issue are the rights of local landowners to be represented in the well permitting process when the groundwater under their land is threatened by massive pumping.  We believe the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District improperly and unfairly denied that right to representation. The story of that ongoing battle is told in the sidebar below and on  Environmental Stewardship's website,
Landowners' Affected Persons Appeal.

Environmental Stewardship has been carrying the bulk of the load up to now when it comes to paying for lawyers' fees and expert witness costs.  We need your financial help NOW to continue this fight and ensure we put up the best effort to win.  (We've been fortunate to have one of the best public interest environmental law firms in Texas leading our legal representation at minimal cost.)

The immediate goal of SAWDF is to raise $30,000 by Sept. 1. We are off to a good start, but need you to please lend your hand - and your dollars - to help protect our groundwater.  You can do so by sending a check made out to the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund to: SAWDF, P.O. Box 690, Elgin TX 78621-0690.
(The SAWDF website and PayPal account are under development).
SAWDF has already filed with the IRS to qualify as a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations made now will be tax deductible once SAWDF receives IRS approval. We expect that approval by the end of 2016 or even sooner. If you'd like to talk with a SAWDF board member about making a donation, please contact:


Michele Gangnes (Director), Ernie Bogart (Director), Andrew Meyer (Director), George and Jeri Witta, Grover Shade, Travis Brown, Phil Cook and Steve Box.  
Please help us sustain our efforts to protect and defend  
our groundwater and surface water resources  
by making a tax-deductible donation today. 

Left to right:  Eric Allmon, Michele Gangnes, Andrew Meyer, Darwyn Hanna, Ernest Bogart, Bette (Betz) Brown, Don Grissom, Steve Box.

The above message is from the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF).  , Steve Box, Environmental Stewardship's Executive Director, has helped in organizing SAWDF but is not a director or officer of the organization.   As explained in the letter, ES has been carrying the financial load on this effort, and we do anticipate obtaining financial support from the fund to sustain the legal appeal discussed above and on our website.

As an option, donations can be made directly to Environmental Stewardship by clicking the DONATE NOW buttons in this email and following the instructions provided.  Environmental Stewardship has been an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization since 2007 and donations are tax-deductible. 
Steve Box
Executive Director
Environmental Stewardship
P.O. Box 1423
Bastrop, TX 78602   

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Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District
Landowners' Affected Persons Appeal
Bastrop County Courthouse
Environmental Stewardship and three individual landowners (collectively, Landowners) filed an appeal in State District Court in Bastrop, TX on February 20, 2014.

They are asking State Judge Carson Campbell to reverse state Administrative Law Judge Michael J. O'Malley's (ALJ) denial of standing to the Landowners to participate in the February 11, 2013, End Op contested case hearing.  The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (District) upheld the ALJ's decision. Parties to this case recently filed briefs in preparation for a hearing that will follow Lost Pines' decision on End Op's permit application that is expected as early as this fall (Click here for Status of Permit).  

    Under state law,  landowners own the groundwater in place under their land. Consistent with this ownership right, Landowners are requesting the right to protest the negative effects End Op's proposed pumping of 46,000 ac-ft per year will have on their groundwater property rights. If the denial of party status to owners of land who have not completed wells in the aquifer affected by permits is allowed to stand unchallenged, no landowner, large or small, who does not have a completed well in the "right" aquifer will be allowed to challenge permits, even if the landowner has an existing well in a different aquifer.
     Prior to the contested case hearing with End Op requested by Aqua Water Supply Corporation to protest End Op's negative effects on Aqua's operations, Aqua reached a settlement with End Op that should have made the hearing unnecessary and inappropriate. Instead, the ALJ allowed End Op to create a self-serving official record without any objections. If Landowners rights are upheld in this case, and a hearing is held with Landowners as a party, the Landowners will have a chance to reverse the sham contested case hearing. The Landowners would dispute End Op's uncontested evidence on which Judge O'Malley based his recommendation that Lost Pines should grant the full 46,000 ac-ft per year permit.

     ALJ O'Malley's denial of party status to Landowners, the issues that came before him in the contested case hearing, and his handling of those issues are very important to ALL landowners. His decision, based on one-sided End Op evidence, essentially will affect ALL landowners' private property rights in their groundwater. The Landowners' appeal provides an opportunity to reverse these decisions, protect our aquifers from being over-pumped, and ensure that ALL LANDOWNERS have the right to protect the groundwater that they own in place beneath their land.  Click here for detailed information on the contested case hearing.

Landowners assert that the ALJ and Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (District) improperly and unfairly erred in denying them party status and the decision should be reversed. Click here for detailed information on the Landowners' Affected Persons Appeal.  
Administrative Law Judge's Order - the details

Austin office
SOAH Headquarter


The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled that a landowner must "demonstrate ownership of wells or have plans to exercise their groundwater rights," AND "must establish a specific injury to a personal justiciable interest" to have standing in a contested case hearing before a groundwater conservation district.


"[T]o prevail," the ALJ ruled, "the Landowners must show a concrete, particularized injury-in-fact that must be more than speculative, and there must be some evidence that would tend to show that the legally protected interests will be affected by the action." Further, the particularized interest must be "distinct from that sustained by the public at large."


The action of this administrative order, now adopted by the Lost Pines GCD's Board of Directors, is to establish the conditions for party status in contested case hearings held before groundwater conservation districts, and especially hearings held before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), These rulings severely limit the ability of landowners to protect the property rights regarding their groundwater in place by severely limiting their ability to arguing the merits of their case, especially if they do not already own a well. 


Click here for link to ALJ's Order and other briefing documents 

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Environmental Stewardship is a charitable nonprofit organization whose purposes are to meet current and future needs of the environment and its inhabitants by protecting and enhancing the earth's natural resources; to restore and sustain ecological services using scientific information; and to encourage public stewardship through environmental education and outreach. 

We are a Texas nonprofit 501(c) (3) charitable organization headquartered in Bastrop, Texas.  
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