Posts Tagged ‘groundwater’

Vote NO! HB 3234!

This bill comes up on the House floor TODAY, so if you get this in time, call your Texas House member and tell them to vote NO on HB 3234 (details below).

We’re going to see lots of last minute bad stuff coming between now and the last day of the session, May 27th, so do what you can.

BASTROP/LEE COUNTY Reminder:  Meeting this Wednesday, 6 pm at Elgin First National Bank, 1312 US 290 –  map here.  We will prepare you for the May 15th hearing on pending groundwater permits AND show you some maps received in response to a public information request by Environmental Stewardship.  Please come~!

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OPPOSE HB 3234 – Changes to Water Rights Permitting – On House Floor MONDAY

Background on the Water Rights Permitting Process:

Under Texas law surface water belongs to the people and is held in trust for them by the state. Those entities or individuals who want to use surface water must apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for the right to use that water for anything other than livestock or domestic use. TCEQ must consider a number of factors before granting a water right, including the following, among other factors:
·      Whether there is unallocated water available in the stream on a dependable basis to accommodate additional water use
·      Whether the water rights application is for a “beneficial use”
·      What the impacts of the water use would be on water quality, wildlife habitat, instream uses, downstream water rights, and – where appropriate – freshwater inflows to bays and estuaries, among other factors
·      Whether the applicant has prepared and/or implemented a water conservation plan.

The administrative review and especially technical review of the water rights permit application takes considerable time, effort, and resources on behalf of TCEQ – especially in the case of complex water rights applications such as the multi-volume Brazos River Authority’s “systems operations” permit application.

The public is supposed to be notified when a permit application is determined by TCEQ to be “administratively complete” and then again after the technical review when and if TCEQ issues a draft permit. Persons “affected” by the proposed water rights permit – such as landowners whose land might be inundated by a proposed water reservoir associated with the permit – may request a contested case hearing on the permit. TCEQ may deny the requests for a contested case hearing and issue the permit.

If TCEQ grants the request for a contested case hearing, the matter is referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for a hearing, and other affected parties or parties whose requests were denied by TCEQ may seek to participate in the hearing, if the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) admits them as parties. After the contested case hearing is concluded, the ALJ will make a proposal for decision by TCEQ. TCEQ makes the ultimate decision and may issue the permit, even when the ALJ recommends denial of the permit.

At whatever point TCEQ issues a water rights permit, that decision may be appealed to state court. Denial of a request for contested case hearing is also appealable to state court if the permit is issued. The courts have overturned TCEQ denial of party status and contested cases for different permits issued by the agency. But the courts give considerable discretion to the agency in decisions about the issuance of a permit. TCEQ rarely denies applications for water rights permits, but permits are often improved as a result of TCEQ and public scrutiny of the permit applications.
CSHB 3234 – This proposed legislation:

·      sets deadlines for TCEQ’s processing of water rights permit applications
·      limits the issues that may be referred to SOAH for consideration in a contested case hearing on a draft permit,
·      prohibits the ALJ from admitting as parties to the contested case hearing any persons or organizations who did not make a request to TCEQ for a contested case,
·      prohibits parties in a contested case hearing from raising any issues they did not raise earlier, and
·      sets limits on the length of time for conducting the contested case hearing.

What’s Wrong with CSHB 3234 – This legislation:

·      sets unrealistic deadlines for TCEQ’s processing of water rights permit applications – especially complex multi-volume permit applications – requiring in essence that TCEQ complete its review and issue a draft permit within 300 days (with some flexibility for additional time if more information needs to be requested from and provided by the permit applicant)
·      puts TCEQ and the public at a disadvantage in reviewing a permit application – while the applicant may have spent years preparing an application the agency and the public are expected to review it thoroughly within a few months
·      makes it difficult to adequately review the impacts of a proposed water rights permit on water quality, wildlife habitat, instream uses, downstream water rights, freshwater inflows, and other concerns
·      ignores any staffing and resource constraints at TCEQ in expediting permit applications
·      unduly limits the issues that may be considered in a contested case hearing on a permit
·      puts inappropriate limitations on an ALJ’s authority to admit persons affected by the proposed permit as parties to a contested case hearing on the permit – if a landowner affected by the permit was not properly notified of the application or the draft permit, for example, the ALJ would not have the authority to admit that person as a party to the hearing because they had not earlier requested that TCEQ grant such a hearing
·      unrealistically limits the time period for the contested case hearing process to nine months – naming of parties, setting a schedule for the process, researching the issues, deposing witnesses and doing other “discovery,” briefing the issues, conducting the physical hearing, replying to briefs, reviewing the evidence, and issuing a proposal for decision would all have to occur within nine months, leading to a rushed and unfair process that is again all to the advantage of the applicant and to the disadvantage of affected persons such as landowners contesting the permit
·      is not the result of a stakeholder process involving diverse interests but reflects only the interests of attorneys for a few permit applicants who requested this legislation, and thus ignores the interests of potentially affected persons such as landowners and anglers, who might be harmed by the issuance of a water rights permit

Prepared and distributed by the Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club. For more information: kenwkramer@aol.com

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Plan now dudes in the legislature!

Just moments ago a bad bill on eminent domain and pipelines was pulled on a point of order in the House. Nice!

ON THE WATER FRONT: 

Read this piece in the Austin-American Statesman, then call or contact your legislators and ask them to stand tall on this issue.  Legislators can focus on conserving water first!  For pennies on the dollar, fixing leaky pipes and getting everyone — the municipalities and large agricultural entities, in particular — to conserve, must be done now.  Do not spend tax dollars on building pipelines to drain rural Texas dry, potentially doing great harm to our aquifers and landowners.  And for the small towns that need help, our understanding is that there are low interest loans available to them already.  If someone tells you differently, we’d like to hear what they have to say.  The bottom line is that building costly infrastructure won’t make it rain.  It doesn’t appear we’re going to get much of that over the next few years, until the lege meets again.

Plan now dudes in the legislature!  More soon…

Latest Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Legislative Update is here.

BASTROP & LEE COUNTY MEETING REMINDER!
Wednesday, May 8th, 6 pm
First National Bank in Elgin
1312 Highway 290 map here

This meeting is to prepare you for the May 15th, 5 pm hearing of the
Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District at the Bastrop Convention Center.

Hope to see you Bastrop and Lee County folks next Wednesday!

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Flood the Capitol With Water Calls!

What More Can YOU Do to Protect Texas Aquifers & Landowners?
FLOOD the Capitol with phone calls into the Texas legislature now!

Just pick the phone and once you’ve made your calls
ask your friends and family anywhere in Texas to do the same.

Note:  Call your State House Representative and State Senator.  These are the folks that represent you in Austin (not Washington).  If you don’t know them you can simply call the Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-3630 and they will connect you!

You can also find them: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us on the web and ALL your state and federal representativesNote:  If Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt is your State Representative (district map here), he has leased his water rights and will benefit if Forestar Real Estate gets a 45,000 acre-feet permit approved in the Lost Pines (Lee and Bastrop counties) Groundwater Conservation District.  Therefore, writing letters to the local newspaper editors might be more effective.

Please also noteSen. Glenn Hegar (whose district is VERY rural and includes Lee County and parts east – see map here) helped open the door in the 2011 legislative for the water marketers to pressure groundwater districts for increased permitting.  It’s a complicated mess, but trust us and call Rep. Hegar!  State Senator Kirk Watson (Travis and Bastrop counties map here) is very connected to the growth push in central Texas.  Call him!

Then call your local Farm Bureau and ask them why they have not supported House Bill 3250, sponsored by Rep. Bill Callegari upon the request of the Texas Landowners Council (small farms).  TLC analysis here and here.

No matter where you live, call these two committee chairs of Natural Resources in the Senate and House.  They are:

*Rep. Allan Ritter, Natural Resources Committee in the House:  512-463-0706 (in addition:  ask him to release HB 3250 from his committee)

*Sen. Troy Frazier, Natural Resources Committee in the Senate:  512-463-0390

Here’s a sample message:

Note:  If you call the Capitol Switchboard 512-463-3630, just ask for your State Representative then call back for your State Senator.

My name is ________ and I live in _______________ (your city and county).

When you get to the right place:

I am calling to ask Representative/Senator ______________ for his/her help to protect our aquifers and the property rights of Texans living near them in rural Texas.  Before we start exporting water, everyone — rural, suburban and urban — must conserve.  We should not start with expensive pipelines and reservoirs before we are seriously conserving.  Citizens are beginning, on their own, to do this.  State leaders must lead by example and be honest about Texans’ limited water supply, rather than catering to the special interests hooked on growth.

If they ask you what you want them to do exactly, tell them:  It is your job to figure this out, but you can start by making sure that you stop any legislation like HB 1796 and HB 2740 (still pending the Natural Resources Committee), that would grandfather permit holders such that no reductions over 5% can be made. You can start holding town halls across the state, which includes the organization for independent voters – Independent Texans.  And, last you must acknowledge that Texas is in a water crisis.  Citizens will work with you on what we can accept – but you’ve got to start with honesty.  Water is scarce – more pipelines to move it, won’t make it rain.

 

Independent Texans

PO Box 651 *  Bastrop, Texas 78602  *  512-535-0989

www.IndyTexans.org * email ljcurtis@indytexans.org * sign up to get our emails or phone calls

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Water Update

A pivotal challenge affecting the entire state’s groundwater management taken by Environmental Stewardship (ES) is awaiting a ruling by the Texas Water Development Board in GMA-12 (Bastrop, Brazos, Burleson, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Navarro, Robertson, and Williamson counties). Do groundwater districts have to consider the impact of aquifer (groundwater) drawdowns on rivers and streams (surface water)?  Any hydrologist will tell you that “surface water” (rivers, streams, etc.) are intimately connected to groundwater (aquifers).  Go to the ES website for more information.

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UPDATE ON WATER HEARINGS IN CENTRAL TEXAS

Another Reminder!  If you live in GMA 12 (Groundwater Management Area 12:  Bastrop, Brazos, Burleson, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Lee, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Navarro, Robertson and Williamson counties) please come to the hearings NEXT Wed., Feb. 29th and/or the following Wed., Mar. 7, in Milano.  Click here for the details and use the share button to send it to friends:  http://www.indytexans.org/2012/02/10/hearings-we-must-attend-to-stop-water-raids-in-central-texas/.  Also, please reply to this message and let us know you’re coming and if you have room to bring folks with you.

This letter to the editor about the hearings has been reprinted in area newspapers –– we love the local papers!

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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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