Agriculture

Reminder: Hearing in Milano, Sept. 11th!

Please consider attending the hearing tomorrow in Milano at 5:30 pm on the plan to allow the exportation of 25,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year from underlying the ALCOA property.  For background info click here.

Hearing starts at 5:30 pm tomorrow, Tuesday, September 11, in Milano.

We are getting calls from landowners who are already alarmed at the drawdown of their wells.

If you cannot attend, please call your STATE representative and STATE Senator, write letters to the editor and call your COUNTY commissioner and COUNTY Judge.  Click here to find them (though this site is temporarily down.)

Spread the word here on our blog (with share buttons for Facebook, etc.).

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LCRA deal with ALCOA – Don’t Let them take our water.

Friends:  After you read this article by Dr. Chubb, let us suggest that you call your state representative and urge that they protect your groundwater.  Click here to find your state representatives.

DON’T LET THEM TAKE OUR WATER.

Curtis Chubb, Ph.D.

Landowner – Milam County, Texas

I just can’t call it a groundwater “conservation” district – it isn’t.  Instead, it should be named the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater “Permitting” District since they approve all permit applications.

Let me give you a couple of examples of what they are doing to us.

Let’s start with the recent announcement that the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has voted to purchase Alcoa’s 34,000 acres near Rockdale.  According to their press releases, LCRA appears to think it is a done deal that they will get permits to annually pump and export 45,000 acre-feet (15 billion gallons) of Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater from Milam County to who knows where.

Did Post Oak already assure them that they will get their groundwater to export?  Does the purchase depend on Alcoa’s pumping permits being approved at a public hearing scheduled for September 11?   Or do you think that LCRA is buying 34,000 acres of land without being sure that they will get their groundwater which appears to be a primary reason for the purchase?

I believe the locations of the 24 new wells that Alcoa wants to drill, even though they are selling the land, are highly informative.

First, 5 of the wells are on the Milam/Lee county line – but they are all on the Milam County side.  They could have been located on the Lee County side, but then they would be in the jurisdiction of Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District which has not approved all permit applications.  Water marketers have told Post Oak that they “are the only ones that got it right.”

Second, the 24 new wells are all located on the southern boundary of the Alcoa land in Milam County – like a picket fence stretching along the Lee County line and US 77.  The well locations may signal what LCRA has planned for the groundwater.  The LCRA press releases only say that the Alcoa groundwater “would be used to help meet the needs of customers served by LCRA throughout the lower Colorado River basin.”  In a 2007 LCRA study, one option was for LCRA to purchase groundwater from Alcoa, build a pipeline to the Colorado River near Bastrop, and discharge the groundwater into the river.  I don’t know if this is their current plan, but it could explain the peculiar placement of the wells.

So, let’s see.  Post Oak has already given permits to water marketer Blue Water Systems to annually pump and export 71,000 acre-feet (23 billion gallons) of our Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater to the I-35 corridor.  And now, Alcoa is requesting pumping permits for 40,000 acre-feet (13 billion gallons) per year – which we anticipate will be the groundwater that LCRA plans to export.

If things go according to plan and Post Oak continues their misguided policy of approving all permit applications, the two water marketers will have permits to annually pump and export 111,000 acre-feet (34 billion gallons) of our Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater.  Another water marketer, Brazos River Authority (BRA), has already made public their future plans to pump 46,000 acre-feet/year of Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater from Burleson County.

There is, however, one pretty big problem:  there isn’t that much Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater.   Well, that is if you want to have Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater around for the future.

The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer underlying Milam and Burleson Counties receives about 25,000 acre-feet of recharge water from rainfall each year – a fact reported numerous times and even highlighted in Post Oak’s management plan.   Only a small percentage of the total recharge, however, is stored in the aquifer; most is either lost to evaporation or discharged as surface water.

So, if Post Oak continues down their slippery path and approves the Alcoa/LCRA permits – the pumping amount will be kicked up to at least 440% more than recharge for the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer.   If pumping exceeds recharge, the aquifers become depleted just as a savings account would if withdrawals exceed deposits.  Future generations, not us, will be affected by Post Oak’s mismanagement.

With these facts in mind, it should be no surprise that it is documented in Alcoa’s permit applications, groundwater levels will drop up to 250 feet just three miles Southwest of Rockdale if they are approved.  And the excessive pumping will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on Lee County’s groundwater since the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer extends into their county.

Only bad things happen when you over pump an aquifer – one being you can’t get to the groundwater without purchasing bigger pumps and digging deeper wells.  Do you think our land values will be affected when the water levels start dropping?  And what effect will it have on our local water utilities that already pump Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater?

Now, Post Oak will wave their hands and tell us ‘not to worry’ that it doesn’t matter if the aquifers are over permitted by billions and billions of gallons – it’s only how much is pumped that is important.  They cite such misleading facts as Blue Water Systems is only pumping 1,000 acre-feet/year although they have permits for 71,000 acre-feet/year.  Is this supposed to make us feel good?  Do they think we don’t know that the full 71,000 acre-feet/year will be pumped eventually?  They actually want us to believe that when Post Oak’s monitoring wells indicate “excessive” water level drawdowns due to their over permitting, that water marketers like Blue Water Systems will reduce their pumping?  Sound like fantasy to you?   It does to me.

Pretty good evidence of the fantasy is:  Blue Water Systems has invested over $40 million in a pipeline, has paid many millions for groundwater leases and right of way agreements, pays $1.1 million per year in fees to Post Oak – and Post Oak expects them to cut their production back by let’s say 50% (very possible based on the amount of over-permitting) because of Post Oak’s failure to manage the aquifers?

I think there will be another outcome: everybody else will be cut back – not Blue Water Systems, LCRA, or BRA, because the water marketers and the towns they supply won’t let it happen to them.   The Post Oak people will bloat up when they read this and accuse me of heresy – but I just don’t think these water marketers are going to roll over and play dead – way too much investment.

As I say, the water marketers are doing a great job – it’s our groundwater district that has failed but continues to play amateur politics with our groundwater.

If you want to see Post Oak in action and voice your opinion (you get three minutes), come to the Alcoa permits public hearing scheduled for September 11, 5:30 PM, at the Milano Civic Center next to the fire station in downtown Milano.  Maybe, just maybe, Post Oak will act to protect and conserve our aquifers for future generations.

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Updates on Eminent Domain, Local Foods & Local Organizing!

Here are some important updates and events:

Eminent Domain   

There’s a lot of news we’re sure you’ve been reading in the regular press about the TransCanada, including this breaking news on protests in NE Texas to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.  Our question is why isn’t somebody doing something to protect the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer that serves 12 million people?

Check out what these brave farmers and landowners, who call themselves the Brazos River Bottom Alliance, are doing to protect their land from seizures by Union Pacific.

Read this new piece on about how NE Texans are organizing “391 Commissions” to protect their land, water and property rights.

Farm and Ranch and Local Foods:

We have been remiss in not mentioning this important event for farmers, ranchers and the many of us who like having our food grown locally.

Click here for the details on this year’s FARFA conference in Bastrop, next Monday and Tuesday.

GMA 12 Keeping Our Water Local: (for central Texas)

A hearing on the ALCOA application for a huge (25,000 acre-feet) amount of groundwater from the acquifer serving GMA (Groundwater Management Area) 12.  Click here for the details from our friends at Environmental Stewardship.

Aqua Water is also holding it’s yearly water forum, this time with Keep Bastrop Beautiful on September 18th.  This is a great opportunity to ask Texas Ag Commission, Todd Staples, how we can keep groundwater local.

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A Daughter of Texas Needs Our Help

A daughter of Texas needs out help

A daughter of Texas is standing up to a foreign corporation that has come to take her land by force.

Julia Trigg Crawford manages the farm her grandfather bought in 1948 near Direct, TX south of the Red River. Last year a Canadian pipeline company called TransCanada told Julia Trigg and her family that a portion of their land would be taken by eminent domain so that the Keystone XL pipeline could be built across it.

Join us at a hearing in Austin on Monday July 23rd at 10 a.m. in Room E2.012 to demand that Texas legislators protect private property. (For more details email contact@wetexans.com)

You have the power to stand with Julia Trigg and to tell elected officials that private foreign corporations should NOT be able to take private property from its rightful owner.

Julia Trigg will face off with TransCanada in court next month. But right now the Land & Resource Management Committee of the Texas House of Representatives is getting ready to meet and discuss what steps our legislature should take to protect landowners.

While this is a positive step, the pipeline industry will be working to convince members of the committee and other legislators they should be given broad powers to take land from private citizens.

Legislators need to hear from you – let them know that pipeline companies have been abusing eminent domain for far too long and Texans aren’t going to stand for it any longer.

Did you know that until last year pipeline companies in Texas could take private property without ANY oversight whatsoever? If a pipeline company claimed it had the right to use eminent domain there was nothing a landowner could do except wait for the land to be taken and then file a lawsuit. Very few property owners have the resources to fight a legal battle with major pipeline companies, so the pipelines almost always won out-of-court settlements that allowed them to take the land.

But in 2011 the Texas Supreme Court struck down this abusive practice in the landmark Texas Rice Land Partners v. Denbury Green Pipelines decision. The court seemed appalled that this was going on, saying “Private property cannot be imperiled with such nonchalance, via an irrefutable presumption created by checking a certain box on a one-page government form. Our Constitution demands far more.”

Join us in Austin, make your voices heard, and let’s give power back to property owners! (Again, for more details email contact@wetexans.com)

As always, thank you for your support!

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Coming to Milano THIS Wednesday, Central Texans?

The first of TWO hearings in Milano, Texas (about 60 miles north of Bastrop and 53 miles east of Round Rock) is THIS Wednesday, at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This hearing is for End Op, L.P.’s challenge to GMA 12 (Groundwater Management Area 12:  Bastrop, Brazos, Burleson, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Navarro, Robertson and Williamson counties) process for setting the “desired future conditions” that are used to set pumping limits in this area.  End Op’s contention is that there’s plenty of water for in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer to provide 71 million gallons per day for a 100-mile pipeline to Hays and Bexar county from the Simsboro portion underlying Bastrop and Lee counties.
Read this letter to the editor that explains our concerns that will hopefully convince you to be there on Wednesday, and/or the following Wednesday for Environmental Stewardship’s challenge.  ES is arguing the opposite — that there is enough evidence to bolster LESS pumping.  Read more here on Environmental Stewardship’s claims.
Bring a sign and lunch with whatever you want to say about this issue.  (Though, there’s now a 1.5 hour break for lunch for folks to travel to Rockdale.)  We’ll also bring materials for you to make one.  We’ll take a picture outside we can share on our web blog and send to media.  We’ll also be videoing and would love to get comments from you at the end of the hearing.
If you need a ride, please let us know and we’ll hook you up with others from your area.  Email us at ljcurtis@indytexans.org or call us at 512-535-0989.  Thank you!  
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Austin is Not Developers’ Monopoly Board

Sign it, if you live in Austin

Austin is Not Developers' Monopoly Board

Dear Mayor Adler and Austin City Council Members:

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Why don't you share this with your friends, please:

Make Growth Pay for Itself

No Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose

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