Neighboring district issues pumping moratorium

A tsunami-like wave in the groundwater world was created last week by the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District. Lost Pines is the groundwater district for Bastrop and Lee Counties – and like us, they are being deluged with water marketers wanting their groundwater.

But unlike our groundwater district, Lost Pines took a courageous stand last week and halted the modern-day “water rush” when they passed the following moratorium resolution by a vote of 7 to 1:

Lost Pines resolution states:

• No further permit application processing shall be conducted with respect to any application for water unless the application was administratively complete on or before September 1, 2005;

• This prohibition shall not pertain to any permit for renewal or any well that is exempt by law;

• This prohibition shall expire upon the promulgation of the District’s MAG [managed available groundwater] into its management plans and the Texas Water Development Board has approved the plan and District rules have been amended to incorporate the MAGs.

Lost Pines’ primary rationale for the moratorium is that HB 1763, the 2005 legislation requiring the determination of DFCs (“desired future condition” for the aquifers) and MAG, “prohibits further permitting until District DFCs are established, approved by the Texas Water Development Board, and the District has received its managed available groundwater (“MAG”), which must be then incorporated into the District’s management plan and rules.”

The resolution was adopted in spite of warnings from End Op’s attorney Russell Johnson that Lost Pines had “extremely limited” authority to adopt the moratorium.

End Op is a water marketer requesting permits to pump and export 56,000 acre-feet/year of groundwater from Bastrop and Lee Counties to the Guadalupe- Blanco River Authority.

We believe it makes logical sense that a prohibition on permitting be adopted until the MAG for an aquifer is determined since state law defines MAG as “the amount of water that may be permitted by a district for beneficial use in accordance with the desired future condition of the aquifer...”

As if to highlight the difference in the groundwater management philosophies between Lost Pines and Post Oak, the board was informed that Post Oak General Manager Gary Westbrook had requested Lost Pines to change their already-adopted DFCs so that Post Oak could allow more pumping.

No action was taken.

“Groundwater – The Front Line” is a project of the Central Texas Aquifers Coalition, Curtis Chubb and Bill Graham, coordinators.

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