►It’s been 3 years since End Op, L.P. filed its permit demand for 56,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year for 5 years. Meanwhile, the 50,000 acre-feet, 20 year permit demand for Vista Ridge (the San Antone Hose) and the Forestar (USA) Real Estate Group permit for 28,500 acre-feet per year have overshadowed the End Op permit.
All three permits threaten the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer underlying Lee, Bastrop, Milam and Burleson counties and constitute only half of the new demands coming after Simsboro water.
►Conclusion: The siege on the Simsboro is all too real and we better get ready.
►A little background: Three years ago Aqua Water Supply
Legal Team and Landowners fighting for a seat at the table on the End Op Permit
Corporation contested the End Op permit and so did four landowners (Betz Brown, Darwyn Hanna, Andy Meyer and Environmental Stewardship). Lost Pines punted this dispute to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). The SOAH judge granted Aqua Water party status, a seat at the table to contest and negotiate the permit. Landowners were denied a seat. That denial went back to the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District board and they too supported keeping the landowners out.
►What happened at the SOAH hearings: It was poorly argued by the Lost Pines District lawyers. They botched the witness testimony after Aqua Water settled in advance of the hearing. Aqua simply defended their ratepayers resulting in a small reduction of the permit to 46,000 acre-feet. Aqua received $15 million to cover the costs of digging deeper wells. Landowners were hung out to dry with a token “mitigation agreement” thrown into the Aqua settlement for propaganda purposes. End Op got an unexamined hearing record that loaded the deck in favor of its massive demand.
Friends across the Simsboro — this is why landowners have a case in District Court disputing their denial of party status and are awaiting a decision by the Lost Pines GCD on the End Op permit. We told you to get ready, didn’t we?
►The timeline: Lost Pines GCD will hear public testimony and take no action, but they will likely set a date soon to take action on the End Op permit. We assume Lost Pines will give End Op a permit. For how much and under what circumstances is the question. Will they do the science that will be asked of them to protect the aquifer? Will Lost Pines reverse course on their current tact to shut landowners out and make a clear move to protect our property rights and Simsboro communities own water futures? And there are plenty more questions likely to be asked of the courts.
Click here for Environmental Stewardship’s concerns about the science.
Landowners are fully expected to be in court soon. We ask you to support them. Their fight is our fight.
See you tomorrow night.
P.S. Bring your checkbooks for the legal fund and join us at La Hacienda following the hearing.