June 25, 2018
Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District
Board of Directors
1124 Regal Row
Austin, Texas 78748
RE: Public Comments for Electro Purification LLC Production Permit in Middle Trinity Management Zone
Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Board of Directors,
Save Barton Creek Association (SBCA) appreciate the critical work that the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District(BSEACD) Board and staff perform to protect the Trinity Aquifer and Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer. Save Barton Creek Association has been protecting Central Texas waterways since 1979 and we have significant concern about Electro Purification LLC (EP)’s permit application to pump 2.5 million gallons of groundwater per day from the Trinity Aquifer’s Cow Creek formation in Hays County.
We are concerned about the effects of EP’s proposed permit on springs, groundwater, surface water, and local wells. We believe that the district should issue EP a permit for a significantly reduced amount, so that science can examine the effect on the environment and local wells, before considering larger permit amounts.
Please also consider adding the supplemental measures below to preserve the high-quality and quantity of the Trinity, the Edwards, and their surface flow interactions, and to protect the historic property rights of existing well owners.
1. Perform water quality testing of springs and seeps that contribute to surface water flows in addition to the annual water quality sampling and analysis of wells in the immediate area of the applicant’s well field. This will require an increase the “water quality sampling fund” from $1,500 to a much more significant amount.
2. Protect surface water supply by implementing strict spring water quality and flow guidelines to protect downstream users, wildlife, and Edwards Aquifer recharge. Those guidelines may be attached to the creation and implementation of a Management Zone for Cow Creek or Lower Glen Rose Springs and a Lone Man Creek Management Zone.
3. Give well owners and the BSEACD Board the opportunity to provide input between phases of production increases. We are glad to see a phased production approach but recommend that there be an opportunity for a public hearing and comment between phases and that decisions regarding phased production changes be subject to the approval of the District’s elected Board of Directors.
4. Improve protections for well owners and future well owners by:
a. Make the “mitigation fund” (Section 9) available for all well failure oriented financial burdens incurred by harmed well owners due to the applicant’s pumping activities. These should include the cost of supplemental water supply and delivery in the event of water quality degradation, well or pump failure, or the additional electrical cost to pump water from greater depth. Potable rainwater harvesting systems should be an alternate financial mitigation option for those that would prefer this to damaged well remediation.
b. Increase the $50,000 “Financial Commitment for Mitigation Actions” to a dollar amount that reflects the actual financial burdens associated with the cost of reworking multiple wells.
c. Reduce Section 7’s Impact Determination Timing of Damaged Wells from 30 days to a 7day maximum period for impact determination. Well owners in many cases have immediate domestic water needs that cannot wait for a 30 day determination.
d. Provide financial protections for future well owners by altering Section 9’s Financial Commitment for Mitigation Actions clause to provide for takings compensation provisions for property owners who are unable to produce water in the future because the applicant’s production has damaged the aquifer’s ability to produce water. The Supreme Court of Texas (Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day and Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Bragg) has explicitly stated that groundwater is a vested private property right in place, subject to governmental taking.
We ask that the BSEACD make the changes above to protect many water users, creatures, and aquatic systems over the financial interest of one company. We highly recommend that the District issue EP a permit for a significantly reduced amount. It is critical that there is an opportunity for scientific studies of the effects on the environment and local wells and that there are opportunities for affected people to take recourse before the District considers larger permit amounts.
Thank you for your consideration.
Angela Richter, Executive Director
Save Barton Creek Association