Legislature’s Water Fund Deflates, Water Wars Escalate

For Immediate Release                                                   May 13, 2013

Legislature’s Water Infrastructure Fund Deflates,
Local Water Wars Escalate

Simultaneous to the Legislature’s scramble to find the votes to get $2 billion to fund water infrastructure, residents living in counties just to the east of the Capitol are headed for a critical skirmish in the water war over their aquifer – the Simsboro portion of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer.  What’s at stake is an aquifer that water marketers have had their eye on for years, and the setting of a precedent that could open the door for draining Texas aquifers to feed exponential growth, doing great harm to Texas landowners.

Citizens from across the affected counties of Bastrop and Lee, together with others from counties that could receive their exported water, will show up on Wednesday, May 15th, starting at 5 pm, at the Bastrop Convention Center to witness a contested hearing as Aqua Water Supply Corporation faces off against private water marketers, Forestar Real Group (Temple-Inland), End Op LP (owned by former Williamson County Commissioner, Frankie Limmer) and the LCRA.  In dispute are groundwater permits totaling 111,000 acre-feet per year (approximately 99 million gallons per day).  The first battle will be over whether Aqua Water has filed in time, according to the rules of the administrative hearing process, to mount a proper challenge to Forestar’s permit request for 45,000 acre-feet/year and LCRA’s permit request for 10,000 acre-feet/year.

Of great interest will be whether the Lost Pines GCD will also grant “party status” to nine landowners and one community organization, Environmental Stewardship, that has led the fight for years to protect the Simsboro.  Seven members of the Brown family in Lee County have filed for party status.

The Browns have owned land in Lee County since the 1800s at ground zero where Forestar plans to sink 10 deep-water wells.  Adding to the drama is that their cousin and neighboring, Garry Brown and State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt, have either leased or sold their own water rights now part of the Forestar deal.

On hand for interviews will be the following individuals and organizations:

•    Betz Brown and other family members who filed for party status against the Forestar and End Op permits.  Betz Brown provided this 2-minute riveting testimony at the most recent hearing in Giddings:  click Betz Brown here and watch Madeleine Stiffelmeyer Brown here talk about how her family has been divided by this issue.

•    Darwyn Hanna, a Bastrop landowner whose family has owned land in Bastrop County since the late 1800s.  Hanna has filed for party status against the permits for Forestar, LCRA and End Op.

•    Andrew Meyer, a young, new farmer who recently purchased land in Paige to start an organic farm.  Meyer has filed for party status against permits for Forestar, LCRA and End Op.  Video of Meyer’s 2-minute testimony to the LPGCD is here.

•    Steve Box, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship, who has provided his considerable policy and scientific expertise to Bastrop and Lee County landowners and residents for years.  ES has filed for party status against permits for Forestar, LCRA and End Op.  Watch this 3-minute testimony by Steve Box here.

•    Phil Cook, Bastrop landowner, Sierra Club – Lost Pines area.  Watch Cook’s 3-minute testimony here.

•    City of Austin resident, Dick Kallerman, Chairman of the Save Our Springs Alliance Board, to support the call for ‘conserve first, move water later.’

•    Tom Sherman, Concerned Citizens for Texas Water Resources, who lives in New Ulm, and is working to stop the 20-well application by Electro Purification to export water to Richmond and Rosenberg.

•    Jimmy Gaines, President of Texas Landowners Council, an original sponsor of House Bill 3250 that died in committee this week.  Mr. Gaines will talk about groundwater as a private property right and because it is a private property right, state law should protect individuals against the taking of groundwater and it does not.

Travis Brown, President of Neighbors for Neighbors and 20 year Lee County landowner.

•    Linda Curtis, Director of Independent Texans, a citizen-led political action committee for non-aligned voters.  Independent Texans has sounded the alarm to residents bringing out large crowds to previous hearings.

Linda Curtis of Independent Texans said, “What is at stake in Bastrop and Lee counties is no different from what is at stake for all Texans — rural, urban and suburban.  Most of our officials have turned their head to any genuine effort to protect Texas aquifers or landowners living over them.  Texans are crying out for what we all need — the common sense notion that we should conserve first, move water later.   The Legislature should be helping us, not helping those who are set to profit from draining our aquifers.”

Lots more details on this battle are in the News section of this blos and the website of Environmental Stewardship.  Maps obtained by Environmental Stewardship delineating potential damage to well owners are here.

•    Note:  The three permit requests under dispute at the time of this release are:  45,000 acre-feet/year for Forestar Real Estate Group (Temple-Inland), 56,000 acre-feet/year for End Op LP and 10,000 acre-feet for the LCRA.  LCRA is asking the Bastrop County Commission at a special meeting called for Tuesday at 9 a.m. to pass a resolution in support of their permit application.

For more information:

Linda Curtis
Independent Texans
512-535-0989 office
512-657-2089 cell

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